The Western Sonoma Coast is where fearless and brave souls go to make some of our country's most captivating wines. The terrain is rough and unforgiving, the air is cool and salty, and dramatic wines come from these extreme conditions. No discussion of the Sonoma Coast would be complete without the mention of Ross Cobb, the Brothers Peay, and Vanessa Wong.
Today, Peay Vineyards and Cobb Wines are two of the premiere producers of the West Sonoma Coast. For both operations, Vintage 2021 was a great year, much more favorable and easier to work than the smoke-tainted 2020 vintage. That is abundantly evident in Ross Cobb's 2021 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, a new wine from this master of the variety.
Ross grew up and worked in Coastlands Vineyard, one of the finest Pinot Noir sites in our country and one that he and his parents purchased in 1989. He went on to work stints as viticulturist and winemaker at Williams-Selyem, Flowers, and Hirsch, all while building his own brand. He definitely knows "which way the wind blows" in these parts, and his knowledge of the various terroirs of the Sonoma Coast are on full display in this wine.
2021 Cobb Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Mind-bendingly good Pinot Noir from the "Master of the Sonoma Coast!"
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After 20 years of producing tiny lots of single vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinots, Ross decided to produce a wine that blended several top sites together. The finished wine is absolutely beautiful, and it showcases both Cobb's style of wine making and the cool-climate nature of the Sonoma Coast. This is a "large production" wine for Ross....950 cases were produced from 2021, a vintage Ross described as "epic."
Pale ruby in the glass, a hallmark trait of Ross's Pinot Noirs, it is a blend of Martini, Calera, and Swan clones from 5 sites on the western edge of the Sonoma Coast. Heavenly aromas of wild red berries, candied rose petal, orange zest, exotic spices, and forest floor come wafting out of the glass. Equally impressive on the palate, there's some sneaky structure here, which suggests this will just get better, but I'll be enjoying a bottle with Thanksgiving this year. You should too!
Part of what makes the western-most part of the Sonoma Coast so special is its proximity to the cooling Pacific Ocean. This aspect lets the grapes hang longer, ripen slower, develop more intricate flavors, and maintain freshness all at the same time. Those characteristics are on full display in Peay's 2021 West Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.
2021 Peay Vineyards West Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
96 points Jeb Dunnuck
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Brothers Nick and Andy Peay and winemaker Vanessa Wong (also Nick's wife) are the team behind Peay Vineyards. Getting to their estate vineyard is quite an adventure, as Lynn and I learned a few years back...it's out in the middle of nowhere, but it was a very intentional decision to set up shop here.
One of the coolest vineyards, both temperature- and vibe-wise on the Coast, Peay's Estate Vineyard is always one of the last to be harvested. That long hang time I mentioned earlier is fully at play here, and 2021 was a vintage the team called "quite successful."
As if it couldn't get better, let's add Vanessa Wong to the mix. Prior to her work at Peay, Wong was the winemaker at Peter Michael for 5 years. Her talents combined with this very special site led to a dramatically delicious Chardonnay with great detail, depth, minerality, and overall polish. Smelling of flowers, white peach, sea spray, and flint, it is elegant and round (but not heavy) on the palate, with captivating flavors of Meyer lemon, ripe pear, delicate spice, and wet slate.
Like Cobb's Pinot Noir, Peay's Chardonnay is one that can be enjoyed now or cellared for up to a decade. I hope you can sense my excitement about both of these wines. They are truly compelling, and both would make this year's Thanksgiving meal extra tasty.
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