Tasting some California Grand Cru’s
When you think of Peter Michael and Lewis Cellars, you think, and rightly so, you think top quality and limited availability. They produce some of the richest and most sought after wines in California including Chardonnay’s and Cabernet’s that rival the best from anywhere, especially the French Grand Cru’s and First Growths. This past week I was able to taste their wines, which is a pretty rare opportunity, for which I am grateful. The Lewis’ came to see me, and others while in town and the Pebble Beach Food & Wine event had the Peter Michael Winery at a press and trade lunch after a seminar.
I sipped on the Peter Michael Chardonnay and hammed it up with their winemaker Nicolas Morlet, who is becoming a super star with the last releases since taking over from his brother there. Plus I was also luck to taste the 2006 Peter Michael “Les Pavots” red as well, and I can say they are fantastic wines, though unfortunately at out of reach prices. I get a little depressed that these wonderful wines are so exclusive, but I can understand and enjoy them as well. The Chardonnay was amazing in its depth and richness with truly a Montrachet presence and outstanding elegant flavors and structure. The “Les Pavots” is everything it is billed to be and then some with power and sublime balance. Without question these are among the great wines of the world, and I am thankful to get the chance to try them.
Randy and Debbie Lewis, of Lewis Cellars, are dedicated to producing full-bodied and ripe world-class wines. They have hired the best winemakers in the state to help them over the years, including Helen Turley and Paul Hobbs and in recent years have formed a house style that delivers total commitment and passion in the glass. Randy, an ex- Indycar driver and Debbie show intense focus on their wines and especially their vineyard sites, knowing that the fruit has to be perfect to make great wine. They get fruit from top sites in Napa and Sonoma, and they oversee them all, including little vineyards in Rutherford, Calistoga, Russian River and on Pritchard Hill. They poured the latest releases of their famed Reserve, both the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, both from select Napa Valley fruit and hand picked barrels. These cuvee’s offer intense fruit and lush textures with beautiful depth and pure flavors.
To see my notes and reviews of these great wines just click here
2007 Peter Michael Chardonnay “Mon Plaisir”.
The Peter Michael Chardonnay’s are some of the greatest whites produced, and I liken them to Domaine Laflaive, or maybe I should say they are or the Montrachet Grand Crus of California. While they don’t taste like Chevalier or Batard exactly by any means, they do scream of quality and have immense depth and richness. This vintage of “Mon Plaisir” is one of the finest ever I would suggest with deep layers and perfect balance, it should deliver excellence in flavors for 8-10 years, easy. This wine shows class, elegance and charm along with thick gobs of fruit and a super long finish. The nose is peachy, nutty and has orange blossoms that dovetail on to a palate of creamy pear, apple, honeysuckle, banana, and yellow peach with fig, backing spice, liquid mineral and vanilla. The toasty oak is a perfect frame to this lovely wine and gives hints of smoke, hazelnut, and nutmeg. The finish is long and has a wonderful lemon tart essence along with apple and quince. ($150-250 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive
2006 Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley.
This is the main stay of the Lewis line up and it shows all the power and richness that a great Napa Cab can give with ripe and thick fruit oozing on the palate and smooth fine tannins holding everything in place. This is a big wine that shows classic character and depth of flavors. A blend of select vineyard sites including Pritchard Hill where the likes of Colgin, Bryant, David Arthur and Chappellet farm their most impressive Cabernet vines. This mountain fruit gives massive structure and a boysenberry layer and then there is some wonderful Rutherford and Calistoga Cabernet that gives lush crème de cassis and black currants as well as a chocolate like ease. There are many layers and great depth with beautiful toasty French oak shadings giving lots of creamy vanilla and mocha notes. Enjoy the huge mouth feel and the added background of plum, licorice, liqueur, tobacco leaf and sandalwood essence. ($125-150 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive