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Peter Michael produces several Pinot Noirs, Le Moulin Rouge ("the red mill" in French), sourced from the Pisoni Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands and three Sonoma Coast bottlings from an estate owned vineyard. Although best known for the superb Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs and Cabernet Savignons they have crafted since 1982, the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs and Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir are outstanding performers. Sadly, it is only available through a mailing list and currently only long-standing members of that list can purchase the wine. It is worth pursuing on the secondary market, albeit quite expensive.
The 400-acre Fort Ross-Seaview property was acquired in 1998 and 30 acres of this site were planted to Pinot Noir in 2006 and 2007 with the first wines from the Seaview vineyards property released from the 2009 vintage. Three wines are offered: "Le Caprice," "Ma Danseuse," and "Clos du Ciel."
The winemaker is Nicolas Morlet, who took over for his brother Luc in 2005. Born into a winegrowing family in Epernay, France, he and his brothers are the fifth generation to grow wine on the family estate for Champagne Pierre Morlet. His first taste of Peter Michael wine was at Paris' famed Hotel De Crillon, over dinner with his brother, Luc, then Peter Michael's winemaker. After a stint at Joseph Phelps vineyards, working on the Insignia and Backus labels, he joined Peter Michael Winery in the winter of 2005. Previous notable winemakers have included Mark Aubert and Helen Turley.
This is a family-owned winery that began in 1982 with the purchase of the winery's Knight's Valley property. In 2015, Sir Peter and Lady M are turning over operation of the winery to son Paul and his spouse Emily.
The winery is not open to the public.
2017 Peter Michael ‘Le Caprice’ Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $130. Released April 1, 2019. This estate vineyard was planted in 2006 at 1,000-1,500 feet elevation on the first ridge-line from the coast to a suitcase clone of Pinot Noir. Soils are alluvial sediments, decomposed volcanic material and clay. The name of the vineyard is a reference to the capricious character of Pinot Noir. This bottling is typically the most fruit-forward of the three Peter Michael estate Pinot Noirs. Native yeast fermentation, aged 16 months in 50% new French oak barrels. The winemaker is Nicholas Morlet.
Note: 3 wines are produced from the Peter Michael estate Seaview Vineyard: Le Caprice, Ma Danseuse and Clos du Ciel. A fourth Pinot Noir, ‘Le Moulin Rouge,’ is sourced from the Pisoni Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The wines are allocated to a mailing list that is now full and interested consumers can join a waiting list at www.petermichaelwinery.com. The winery in Calistoga is available for tours and tasting to private members and waiting list members by appointment.
· Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Intriguing aromas of black cherry, ripe strawberry, spice and redwood forest floor. Beautifully composed with exquisite balance, offering deep flavors of black cherry fruit that saturate every nook and cranny in the mouth. Very suave in texture in a medium weight style, with a mix of warn leather, floral and herbal undertones. Extremely satisfying now but displays the harmony that guarantees at least ten more years of drinking pleasure. Still righteous juice when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 96. Reviewed May 25, 2020 ARTICLE »
2014 Peter Michael “Le Caprice” Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $116. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. This wine left me grasping for superlatives. Lovely aromas of black cherry, dark berry and spice. A melange of purple and black fruits elevate the mid palate and finish in this superbly balanced wine offering added notes of clove spice, anise, vanilla, and sweet oak. At once both succulent and refined, with a peacock finish that goes on forever. Still superb the following day from a previously opened and re-corked wine indicating a long life ahead. Extraordinary in every respect. Score: 98. Reviewed June 18, 2016 ARTICLE »
2011 Peter Michael Le Caprice Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $110 (secondary market). Vineyard is located in the Ft. Ross-Seaview AVA. Winemaker Nicolas Morlet. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. This is a sophisticated, polished offering that hits all the right notes. The nose picks up interest over time in the glass exhibiting aromas of black cherry, purple berries, spice, rose petal and vanilla. Delicious mid palate attack of fresh black cherry, black raspberry fruits with a hint of spice and aniselaced oak. There is a nervy minerality in the background which is very appealing. Silky in the mouth, with modest chalky tannins, this elegant wine finishes with an enjoyable nutty cherry note that lingers. This harmonious and almost ephemeral wine drinks so effortlessly, one could easily polish off a bottle without realizing it. Score: 94. Reviewed August 15, 2014 ARTICLE »
2009 Le Caprice Seaview Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.7% alc.. Released September 1, 2011. 100% naturally fermented using native yeasts. Aged 17 months in 33% new French oak barrels and bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Reserved aromas of dark berry jam and plum reduction sauce with a whiff of oak. The flavors echo the aromas in a rich, bold style exhibiting well-integrated oak, moderate sinewy tannins and some persistence on the fruit-driven finish. More expressive and vivacious the following day from a previously opened and recorked bottle. Very good. Reviewed February 22, 2012 ARTICLE »
2008 Le Caprice Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc.. Sourced from Reuling Vineyard. Aged 16 months in 33% new French oak barrels and bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. Muted aromatics with little fruit and demure scent of forest floor and ash. Full-bodied array of lovely, dark red and black fruits which are overwhelmed by firm, sinewy tannins and smoke taint. Decent. Reviewed February 22, 2012 ARTICLE »
2007 Le Caprice Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc.. The Reuling Vineyard was planted in 2003 with a field selection from a Grand Cru vineyard in Burgundy. Soils are Goldridge. Indigenous yeast fermentations. Aged 14 months in 30% new French oak barrels and bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddishpurple color in the glass. Very nicely perfumed with aromas of wild berries, black cherries, spice, cedar and oak. Rich and full-bodied with copious black cherry, black raspberry and black plum fruits, exotically spiced. Soft and smooth on the palate with well-behaved fine-grain tannins and some persistence on the finish. Not as appealing the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Good (+). Reviewed February 22, 2012 ARTICLE »
2005 Peter Michael Winery ‘Le Moulin Rouge’ Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $130 (secondary market). · Very attractive nuanced nose with scents of black cherries, red plums, wild sage, exotic spices and woods. A stunning wine of incredibly flavor intensity yet smooth and caressing. A perfect example of “iron fist in a velvet glove.” Dark cherry, berry, plum flavors with a hint of citrus and refreshing acidity on the persistent finish. A complete wine with great purity of fruit. The most expensive of the Pisoni Vineyard bottlings, the hardest to get your hands on due to its tight allocation, but worth a search and every penny. One of the greatest California Pinot Noirs I have drank in 2009. Score: 95. Reviewed October 3, 2009 ARTICLE »