Peay's 2014 Sonoma Coast releases

Peay's 2014 Sonoma Coast releases
Brothers Andy and Nick Peay, and Nick’s wife Vanessa, craft some of the most thoughtful and cerebral wines to come out of America’s West Coast. Situated way up in the very far northwest of the Sonoma Coast appellation, close to the town of Annapolis, the Peay vineyard is as striking as it is remote. Out here bears are a bona fide vineyard pest and the fog-line is a frequent visitor. It’s a cool yet sheltered site, planted to a striking number of highly selected low yielding small berry clones, carefully chosen by the Peay brothers to bring out the best of this marginal microclimate.

In winemaking terms the philosophy here is all about the gentle approach, with low new oak usage and minimal intervention. The resulting Peay style sits very much in the new school of American pinot noir where balance is king. There’s nothing bold or brash about these complex, subtle wines. They are produced at the limits of Pinot Noir ripening precisely because the Peay team seek tension and great acidity in their wines and they understand that the only natural way of achieving this is to make the vines struggle.

Today’s offer represents the 2014 releases, the best set of wines we’ve tasted from the Peay team. Cep denotes the entry Pinot in the range. A barrel selection offering wonderful value; it is ripe, aromatic and seductive while retaining transparency and freshness. The 2014 Chardonnay represents a Burgundian slant on Californian Chardonnay, devoid of tropicality, yet not relying too heavily on overly reductive aromas to give character. At the top end of the scale sit the three Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir cuvees. After vinifying 20-25 individual Pinot lots, blending for the cuvees is carried out blind, producing three clear expressions of Pinot Noir from a single terroir. Thus, Scallop Shelf emerges as the most high toned, ethereal, red fruited and feminine of the three. Pomarium is darker, brooding and structured when young, but savoury and complex with age, as the signature pine forest floor aromas emerge. And finally there is Ama, which combines the subtle elegance of Scallop Shelf with a more handsome structure, polished tannins and complex wild fruit and spice nuances. Individually they are compelling and delicious, together they make a fascinating study of the many facets of a single site.