In a nutshell: An exceptionally well made Californian Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey.
The lowdown: The Monterey region, south of the San Francisco Bay area, where this comes from, is sometimes call California's 'salad bowl'. There's also quite a few vineyards around there as well of which Pisoni have some of the best. Their 'Lucia' label wines are made from a blend of their three vineyards, Pisoni, Soberanes and Gary's, in the cool climate Santa Lucia Highlands perched above the Salinas Valley. These wines are pretty sought after and only a few dozen bottles of the Pinot make it to the UK each year. Exceptionally well made, it has wild strawberry, lavender and rose petal aromas and elegantly ripe red cherry, pomegranate and raspberry flavours accompanied by a touch of forest floor earthiness and hint of sweet spice. A velvety palate, gentle tannins and a sustained length coupled with a wonderful freshness all result in a very accomplished wine.
When to drink: With its deep, ripe flavours this is a good match with the likes of duck, pork, salmon and tuna dishes.
Based in the Salinas Valley, south of California's Monterey Bay the Pisoni family have been farming in this area since 1952. However it was when the second generation of the family in the shape of the maverick figure of Gary Pisoni started growing grapes in the surrounding highland areas in 1982 that their vineyard business first got going. And it wasn't long before people started to take notice of what he was up to.
Over the following years Gary has built a reputation as one of the most skillful exponents in the art of Pinot Noir in California and along with his sons Mark, now vineyard manager, and Jeff, winemaker they run one of California's most respected and high quality wineries. In all they have around 40 acres of vines spread across 20 distinctive parcels. And while Pinot Noir remains an undimmed passion for them, they also grow some exceptional Syrah and Chardonnay. They have two main labels; Pisoni Estate and Lucia both of which are a byword for excellence in Californian winemaking.