The SOMM Journal

August / September 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 49 of 148

{ }  49 THE WINES All prices are suggested retail. McIntyre NV l'Homme Qui Ris Sparkling, Santa Lucia Highlands ($36) 260 six-packs Made by the méthode champenoise from 100% estate Pinot Noir grapes, this is one of my favorite sparkling wines tasted in California at this price point. Subtle hints of fresh-baked sourdough, lemon zest and toasted Marcona almonds. Silky with a long bright finish. Vibrant on the palate with refined bubbles and subtle flavors of Asian pear and Meyer lemon. McIntyre 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands ($24) Made from 40-yeard- old Pinot Noir vines on the McIntyre estate, this purposeful rosé is bright and refreshing with aromas of raspberry tea, rhubarb and orange peel. Flavors of rhubarb carry through on the palate with hints of sage and a long, tingly finish. McIntyre 2014 Estate Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands ($36) 300 cases Consistent with McIntyre's minimalist approach to wine - making, this Chardonnay sees very little new French oak to focus the flavors on the fruit. The Chardonnay grapes (clones 76 and 96) are harvested in two sweeps: one earlier around 23 Brix to maintain bright acidity and citrus flavors and one around 25 Brix to develop tropical fruit character. Aromas of fresh-picked corn, lemon zest, grilled pineapple and subtle hints of yogurt and pasta water. The palate is broad with flavors of yellow stone fruit, cardamom, baked pears and a tingle reminiscent of kumquats. McIntyre 2014 Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands ($45) 500 cases Sensual nose with a balance of fruit and earth: bright red cherries, roasted red beets, warm dirt and dried savory. Red plum and raspberry with indescribable umami flavors. A combination of mainly clones 777, 115 and a little old-vine Pinot Noir ; 30% whole-cluster fermentation makes for a textural, savory palate and long finish with inte - grated tannins. McIntyre 2014 Estate Pinot Noir, Block 3, Santa Lucia Highlands ($56) Mostly Swan clone, 30% whole-cluster fermentation, nine months in barrel. McIntyre prefers to go to bottle rather early so as to preserve the desired fresh fruit character. Beautiful aromas with notes of black plums and oolong tea. Savory, concentrated flavors but not overtly lush: black cherry, red beet juice and subtle hints of hoisin. Fog from Monterey Bay rolls into the Salinas Valley nearly every day in the summer, breaking about mid-morning. Originally, the University of California had said Cabernet Sauvignon would be the perfect variety to plant here, but it wasn't. "They didn't take into account the wind," said McIntyre. The fog and strong maritime wind, which picks up in the early afternoon, limits the amount of time that you're at maximum temperature and keeps the Santa Lucia Highlands cool enough for growing quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay—not heat-loving Bordeaux varieties. making wine. "I just wasn't selling it commercially," he laughs, "and then in 2005 we hired a person to help us with sales and marketing, and then we had to be serious." Since McIntyre had his hands full managing not just his vine - yard but dozens of others also, they brought in winemaker Byron Kosuge in 2007. McIntyre and Kosuge had worked on a project together for Monterey Wine Company and had devel - oped a similar approach. "We're minimalists; we both agree that we don't induce ML, add bacteria or yeast, we're not in oak long and we utilize a minimum amount of new French oak. So it's all about the grape. You won't find a lot of processing notes; stylistically it's about the grape," McIntyre explained. Having both a background in winemaking and grape grow - ing gives McIntyre a unique perspective and appreciation for the craft. "When young people ask me, 'I don't know which one to do,' I always say you really have to do both." He believes strongly in an integrated approach: "If you're a grape grower and you don't understand why pH is important to a wine - maker, you're not going to get to where the winemaker needs to be. And vice versa. If you're a winemaker and you don't understand timing in terms of the harvest decisions, you're going to miss every window to get something done right." The limited production of McIntyre Estate wines account for only about five percent of the vineyards' total yields. The farming practices in the vineyard are designed to limit pro - duction and produce only the highest quality concentrated fruit. "I always tell people our best wines are ahead of us because we've got so much to learn," said McIntyre explain- ing how the region is still young and learning which clones, rootstocks and even which pruning techniques work best. "The next time it's different and it's better," he says smiling. As McIntyre's continues his quest for producing the best grapes possible, I can only imagine the wines that we're likely to see from the Estate and the SLH in the future. The time spent with Steve McIntyre affirmed what we've always heard: that wine is truly made in the vineyard.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The SOMM Journal - August / September 2016