2019 Lucia Vineyards by Pisoni, Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands.
This 2019 Santa Lucia Highlands cuvee by Jeff Pisoni is stunning in the glass with pure regional character and depth of flavor, it way over performs for the price and shows the greatest of all of his family’s Cru vineyard sites with this edition seeing 52% Pisoni Estate, 18% Garys’ Vineyard and 30% from the Soberanes Vineyard grapes, with a lot of the famed Pisoni clone as well as a savvy mix of dijon and heritage selection that add to the complexity here. 2018 and 2019 were exceptional years for Pinot Noir in the Highlands with their long mild (cool) growing seasons and deep flavor development make them two of the best years I can remember, and as the wines come out these 2019s are showing fabulously well and may go on the eclipse the fantastic ’18s, this is true with this Lucia SLH bottling, which could be my favorite ever version of this offering, a wine that I have loved since its first release. The dark ruby color is vivid and inviting, everything about this wine excites the senses and tells you this is a Pisoni Pinot Noir, it starts with a beautiful bouquet of red berries, cut flowers, a delicate spice and a smoky sweet toasty oak note, which leads into a rich and medium bodied palate with brambly black raspberry, dense cherry, plum fruits along with a touch orange and red apple skins as well as vanilla, cola bean, wild fennel, tea spices, sandalwood and echos of the lovely florals. The be honest this regular Santa Lucia Highlands is not far off the single Cru wines and it should age well with its natural acidity and concentration, it also can be enjoyed right now, especially with matching cuisine, I can see it playing well with lots of dishes, ranging from blackened salmon to seared ahi (blue-fin tuna) and or duck breast, as well as meat and poultry. Pisoni employed about 20% whole cluster and native yeast fermentation for this 2019 vintage and was aged in 40% new French oak for just under a year before bottling, this all allowed the grapes to show off their very best and is perfect for the years’ fruit profile, this is nothing short of brilliant.

The 2019 Lucia Vineyards Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir comes from grapes, as noted above, grown exclusively from the Pisoni, Garys’ and Soberanes Vineyards, making it, as the winery says, a wonderful representation of their estate vineyards, each block for this wine is cultivated to the same high standards that the Pisoni family led by the lregenday Gary and his older son Mark Pisoni have set. The younger brother Jeff, the winemaker, who is now one of California’s top guns, uses select vineyard blocks to craft this wine, with designated lots of free-run wine and hand-select barrels used in the blend, which Pisoni hopes, creates a “world-class” appellation blend. The Pisoni wines really capture the soul of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA that the family helped create and has been farming since 1982, when Gary planted the first experimental parcels at his remote estate. The Santa Lucia Highlands set in the western mountains of the Salinas Valley, it is a higher bench above the Salinas River in the famous Steinbeck country with mostly sandy loam soils that allow for the opulent richness of fruit in the Pinots. This hilly range of gentle slopes faces east, receiving the gentle morning sunshine, while always getting a cooling influence from the deep Monterey Bay and its underwater canyon of ultra cold water. The Salinas Valley naturally channels that cool breeze from the Pacific Ocean which refreshes the vines and leads to the area’s long growing season, one of the longest in the state. The Santa Lucia Highlands owe much to the pioneering spirit of the Pisoni family and their 2019s perfectly reflect the regions best qualities for growing distinct Pinot Noir, as well as Chardonnay and Syrah, a grape that I think does almost as well as the Pinot here, especially at the Soberanes Vineyard. This is the 21st vintage from Pisoni under their own label and one of their most seductive and desirable, making for a not to miss collection of small batch wines and these new releases will sell out fast, so don’t wait too long, and be sure not to overlook this one!
($49 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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