2018 Lucia Vineyards by Pisoni, Pinot Noir, Garys’ Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Jeff Pisoni’s incredible 2018 Garys’ Pinot takes what was already one of California’s greatest wine to the next level, it is almost a perfect wine and expression of place with gorgeous aromatics, purity of form and a cascade of rich Pinot fruit and a heavenly textural mouth feel, it’s wine that absolutely seduces the senses. This vintage with its long cool growing season and the impeccable farming by the Pisoni family, led by Mark Pisoni as well as his dad Gary and Gary Franscioni (the Garys of Garys’) has made for some of the most brilliant wines ever made in the region, not only do they have ripe and dense fruit concentration, they have energy and graceful lines and a lingering aftertaste that just makes your knees go weak with admiration. The vineyard’s position on a sloping hillside in the center of the 16-mile long SLH appellation offers, what the Pisoni’s call a true representation of the Santa Lucia Highlands, with sandy, loamy alluvial soils that are coupled with heavy fog and strong, cold winds in the summer, make it one of the top sites in the state for Pinot Noir giving deep and intense flavors, which this 2018 delivers in impressive fashion. This new release starts with a captivating bouquet of dark floral notes with rose petal and a hint of violets along with a touch of smoke, crushed red berries and briar before a medium to full bodied and satiny unfolding palate of black cherry, brambly raspberry, plum and tangy red currant fruits that are accented by sweet wood notes, tea spices, sassafras and a youthful orange zest. As this magnificent Pinot opens it shows off the care that went into making it, every detail and nuance on full display with Pisoni’s gifted touch clearly present throughout, this is as good as it gets, period.
Garys’ Vineyard, planted in 1997 after the success of the original Pisoni Vineyard, as well noted, is named for grape-growing partners Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni, both of whom come from multi-generational farming families in the Salinas Valley. Located in the heart of the Santa Lucia Highlands, this Grand Cru fifty-acre vineyard is planted mostly to Pinot Noir, with a top collection of clones, including the fabled Pisoni clone, along with a small portion of Syrah, which does very here too and is one of my favorite, with some vintages eclipsing the Pinot. Given its proximity to Monterey Bay, as highlighted by the winery, this site sees lots of cooling influence and the marine layer surrounds the Garys’ Vineyard during the summer months that helps slow the regions ripening season, providing the grapes the extra time to mature in complexity, while allowing bright acidity that helps with balance and structure. The 2018 vintage saw just 4% whole cluster for the Lucia Garys’ and it was fermented with 100% native yeasts at Jeff’s state of the art winemaking facility, that is all gentle gravity flow and allows him to hand craft these stunning wines. The wine, after primary fermentation, was then racked to French oak barrels where it was rested for close to a year, 11 months in total with just a touch over 50% in new wood, which shows in the luxurious mouth feel and the kiss of vanilla toastiness. This resulted in a sleek and elegant wine that looks fabulously set for a long and joyous life in the bottle, where it should evolve nicely for many years to come, and it is set to be benchmark edition from this vineyard, rivaling the famous Pisoni Estate bottling, which is itself celebrating its 20th anniversary! This is not a year to miss for these Pisoni Family wines, especially this one, they are awesome and will be highly rewarding over the next 10 to 20 years.
($70 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive