2017 Wrath, Pinot Noir, Swan/828 (Clones), San Saba Vineyard, Monterey County.
Sabrine Rodems, winemaker at Wrath has taken this label from obscurity to one of the best in Monterey with her continued success with richer styled Pinot Noirs, with most coming from vines in the Santa Lucia Highlands bench with its sandy loams and breezy cool climate making for some seriously deep wines. I must admit, I have at certain times had a love and hate relationship with Wrath, while I have always admired Rodems’ Syrah and some of whole cluster Pinots, the Rose and Chard until recently seemed a bit sweet for my personal taste, but in recent vintages the wines have reached a fine place, especially this new Swan and 828 clone cuvee from the San Saba Vineyard. This parcel is set in a sheltered nook, that is farmed with care and is certified sustainable, it sits just outside the SLH, but with a continuation of climate and soils, the Arroyo gravelly loam and Hanford sandy loam, which is well drained and low vigor, making for concentrated and intensely flavored grapes. This 2017 is very well balanced and has a quality feel about it, it reminds me of Williams Selyem and or Rochioli in style with a smoky earthy sensation, a dense palate and luxurious array of racy red fruits that takes me back to those wineries heydays of the mid nineties which is intriguing! As it opens up, this Swan/828 Pinot really takes off in the glass with a beautiful ruby/garnet hue, a subtle perfume of floral tones, spice and wild strawberries that comes through along with layers of black cherry, dusty plum and raspberry fruits as well as hints of briar, nutmeg, leather, cedar, cola bean, mineral/stony notes and a touch of stem tension and fleshiness that excites and lifts the fruit nicely. Look for more rose petals and pomegranate to come through with bottle age and the Swan’s earthy side matches the 828’s almost Grenache like expressiveness well, I look forward to letting the wood tame a bit and see its evolution.
The Thomas family bought San Saba Vineyards in late 2007 and created Wrath Wines and dramatically changed the culture and style of the estate with new viticulture practices focusing on crafting small lots of premium Pinot Noir as well as over the years adding Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, plus most recently a Falanghina, an ancient Italian white aromatic varietal from Italy’s Campania region. Wrath was the brainchild of co-owner and director of operations Michael Thomas, who brought in the talented Rodems and who also had the help of famed consultant Byron Kosuge, who made made for Miura and his own label and who had a great wealth of knowledge about the local sites. Recently, Wrath added the upcoming talent Miguel Lepe to help Rodems in the cellar, after he spent time making the Figge wines. I recently was highly impressed by Wrath’s all whole cluster Ex Vite Pinot Noir from the 2014 vintage, which is a thrilling wine, but with a gripping bite, while this one seems to hit a more finessed or polished cord, Rodems chose to vinify the the clonal selections separately with about 20% whole cluster and blending from barrel, which was a selection of various tonnelleries to add complexity, 40% new in total, and with close to a year of elevage. Then, after bottling, Wrath cellared this Swan/828 for an additional 12 months, which I must say paid off, allowing it to develop a textural seamlessness and elegance, and it is not done yet, as I think there is more to come with potential rewards for patience, drink over the next 3 to 5 years. This wine joins some fine offerings from Roar, Lucia, Morgan and Joyce delivering an exceptional SLH charm and a value packed performance, it’s solid choice, especially at this price point. Wrath is hitting its stride and with stellar vintages in barrel there’s a lot of expectations and this Pinot, which is just coming out now, gives a big hint of some next level stuff down the road.
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive