Across them all, the Peay style is nuanced, intellectual, meant for food. They talk more about scents than fruit: tea, perfume, earth.’ Jon Bonné
2013 marks our second vintage release from Peay Vineyards, and an excellent follow up to their outstanding 2012 collection. Situated in the far north west of Sonoma, part of the ‘true’ Sonoma Coast appellation, the Peay vineyard is a mere 3 km from the Ocean and situated on a ridge in the inversion layer, directly affected by cold Pacific breezes and fog. This is cool territory for making wine and that was exactly what the Peay brothers were looking for when they planted in 1998, seeking to push Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah to their extremes and in doing so bring out the tension and energy they crave in these varieties.
Tasting these 2013s we were struck by the restraint and complexity on show. These are very serious Pinot Noirs and quite probably the finest we’ve tasted from this estate. The three ‘cuvées’ represent such interesting counterpoints to one another that it is very hard to pick a favourite. Some will go for the gently savoury qualities of Pomarium (600 cases produced), the most ready of the three, while others will fall for the grace, finesse and high-toned florality of Scallop Shelf (650 cases produced). Still others will doubtless find themselves drawn to the handsome suave complexity of Ama (550 cases produced). Regardless of which, all share similar qualities of complexity, fragrance and very moderate alcohols. These Peay team were raised on European wines and it very definitely shows in their wines. With alcoholic levels hovering around 13% they have managed to coax out maximum flavour and complexity without resorting to over-ripeness or any sense of excessively sweet fruit (that all too many new world pinots fall foul of). In addition to their Pinot Noir bottlings there are two very fine Chardonnays and a miniscule amount of their rather cultish Syrah on offer. The former come from the coolest sites of the vineyard and eschew tropicality in favour of fine citrus and mineral flavours, albeit bolstered by silky textures and succulent fruit sets. The Syrah is typically varietal without becoming mawkish, picked late because of the cool site and full of pepper and spice and cool dark fruit characteristics. It combines power with tension to great effect.
“The 2013 wines have turned out to be the best wines we have made to date. Partly this is due to the maturation of the vines as they are now 15 years old and entered what winemakers consider their best years. The aromas appear to have lost some youthful exuberance evident in young vine wines and the wines have become more refined and expressive. Writing the tasting notes, I kept saying, “this is the best we have made in 10 years...or ever." It became embarrassing and redundant so I will not say it repeatedly in the detailed notes except once, here: these wines are, as a class, what we hope to achieve from our vineyard." Andy Peay, Peay Vineyards
Press for Peay
‘Brothers Nick and Andy Peay own this spot in Annapolis, to the far north of the west Sonoma coast in what is called the inversion layer, a band of cold air that sits on the 53-acre (21.5 hectare) vineyard most of the day. The grapes are small and slow to ripen, which concentrates the flavor while still retaining bright acidity. Cool sunlight and the long growing season foster complexity without increasing alcohol levels. The resulting wines are delicate and fine-boned, with floral aromas, red-fruit flavors, and an ultra-lean texture’ Elin McCoy, LE PAN Magazine.
‘Their complex Pinot Noir and Syrah have rapidly become benchmarks, to say nothing of their Chardonnay and Rhone-style whites. After just over a decade, the Peay vineyard outside Annapolis has emerged as one of California’s most extraordinary sites….Late to ripen Even by Sonoma Coast standards, Peay occupies a chilly slice of the world. While vineyards just to the south like Hirsch (where Wong worked) or Flowers (where Nick worked) may sit closer to the coast, they’re above the inversion layer. The site in Annapolis is lower, between 600 and 800 feet, with colder temperatures….The Pomarium Pinot Noir (a tribute to the site’s former life as an apple orchard) is savory and robust, while the Scallop Shelf is about brighter fruit, refined texture and tangy accents. Across them all, the Peay style is nuanced, intellectual, meant for food. They talk more about scents than fruit: tea, perfume, earth.’ Jon Bonne – Winery of the Year 2009
‘Peay Vineyards is making wines of rare intensity and precision.’ Eric Asimov, New York Times.