The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2012

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Page 38 of 140

INTRO-VINOUS A Singular Pursuit of Passion PRESQU'ILE HAS TAKEN ROOT IN THE SANTA MARIA VALLEY by Michelle Ball / photo by Jeremy Ball T hey could not have come from two more different worlds. Yet when Matt Dieter Cronje, winemaker for Presqu'ile. Murphy, a native of Arkansas, first met Dieter Cronje, an aspiring winemaker from South Africa, their passions quickly collided. Growing up, Murphy was intrigued with the idea of being a "gentleman farmer" and living in California. At the same time, he was also exposed to many great European wines, especially Burgundies, at the family table. Cronje studied winemaking in South Africa, and he knew he wanted to make Pinot Noir. He came to the Santa Maria Valley on an internship program in 2004, and two years later, returned to pursue his passion. Murphy's family had been involved in previous wine ventures through partnerships, and had decided it was time to find a property to create their vision. They looked from the Willamette Valley to the Santa Rita Hills. "And we just kept coming back to the Santa Maria Valley," Murphy remembers; "this is where I felt my roots were." All wines are made as naturally as possible to preserve their sense of place. They rely only on native yeast fermentation and never inoculate for primary or secondary fermentation. "I think that really speaks to a wine being terroir-driven," Cronje states, "if you want to create a sense of place, you've got to use the yeast from that place. It just seems natural to me." Many of their wines are fermented in concrete tanks, which as Cronje points out, "creates a much softer wine because it breathes like oak, but it doesn't add flavor like oak." The name Presqu'ile, French Creole for "almost an island," was chosen because the Murphy family, together with Cronje, have replanted their roots at the top of a hill in the Santa Maria Valley. It's truly a family business, and Cronje is a vital part of that family. As Murphy says when asked why he chose Cronje to help in this venture, "He's sharp as a whip and a talented winemaker who also happens to be my best friend. So it works out on multiple levels for us." 38 / the tasting panel / october 2 12 october 20012 Tasting Notes Presqu'ile wines push the envelope of acidity, without falling out of balance. This makes the wines ideal for pairing with food and for long term cellaring. Presqu'ile 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Maria Valley ($22) The nose is a dead ringer for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc—gooseberry and lemongrass fill the glass. The wine is made with a combination of neutral barrel and concrete aging, which gives it a nice weight in the mouthfeel, without any toasted oak influence. Presqu'ile 2010 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley ($42) A blend of both Presqu'ile Vineyard and Solomon Hills Vineyard fruit, the wine is dark and lush. A large percentage of whole cluster and a warmer fermentation enhances the baking spice character distinctive of Santa Maria Valley fruit. Presqu'ile 2009 Pinot Noir, Presqu'ile Vineyard ($45) The wine is seductively sweet on the nose; ripe, red cherry fruit draws you in. On the palate, the wine is marked more by texture than by fruit. Black raspberry tea, hints of cranberry and subtle tannins balance the fruitiness found on the nose. A beautiful wine.

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