The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2015

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38  /  the tasting panel  /  may 2015 "I  first came to California in 1972 when I was 34," Sir Peter Michael told me. He owned a tech company and was doing business in Silicon Valley. "But the 1976 Paris tasting changed all that, and I made up my mind to make wine. I found the property in the Knights Valley in 1980." For the next 30 years or so, among his many other entrepre- neurial business ventures, he has developed the Peter Michael Winery into one of California's best and most celebrated estates. "I rode the crest two ways: Silicon Valley, and Napa and Sonoma. It was a bit of hard work, a bit of luck and a bit of money as well." The Peter Michael Winery produces about 25,000 cases of wine, 98% of which is estate-grown. The property is located on rocky, volcanic ridges on the western side of Mount Saint Helena, just over the Napa County border into Sonoma's Knights Valley. "We discovered that we were able to grow Bordeaux varieties lower down on the warmer part of the mountain, and we could grow Chardonnay at the higher elevations—around 2,000 feet—because it was cooled by ocean breezes that flow through the gap in the mountains." Les Pavots (French for "the poppies") is "the wine I set out to produce 30 years ago." It is a rich, elegant and beautifully structured blend that varies from year to year but is usually about two-thirds Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest made up of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. We tasted a five-bottle verti- cal of this great wine. Here are my notes: CELLAR VIEW A Knight in Knights Valley A VERTICAL OF THE STUNNING "LES PAVOTS" FROM PETER MICHAEL WINERY by Anthony Dias Blue Lady and Sir Peter Michael. PHOTO COURTESY OF PETER MICHAEL WINERY Peter Michael Winery 2006 Les Pavots, Knights Valley (nla) Racy and edgy with tight tannins and firm structure; black currant and plum; notes of mocha and spice; bal- anced and long. 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. 92 Peter Michael Winery 2007 Les Pavots, Knights Valley (nla) Bright and intense with excellent structure and depth; blueberry and truffle, elegant with some dusty notes; refined, complex and Bordeaux-like; balanced finish. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc,10% Merlot & 3% Petit Verdot. 95 Peter Michael Winery 2008 Les Pavots, Knights Valley (nla) Lush and velvety with generous, ripe flavors of plum, cassis and spice; deep and elegant, powerful and showing great finesse; chocolate, mocha; creamy and balanced, long and complete. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot & 3% Petit Verdot. 96 Peter Michael Winery 2009 Les Pavots, Knights Valley (nla) Juicy, earthy and com- plex with strawberry and Provencal herbs, black truffle, mocha and black cherry; lovely, smooth texture and great depth. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot. 94 Peter Michael Winery 2011 Les Pavots, Knights Valley ($195) Dark and deep with velvety texture; juicy plum, cassis and spice; concentrated but elegant and supple; chocolate, mocha, blueberry, rosemary, violets; complex and seamless; long and balanced. 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot. 94

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