July Domestic Wine: 2012 Pietra Santa Pinot Noir, Cienega Valley, CALIFORNIA

Pietra Santa and its History: “Pietra Santa is a family-run estate producing artisanal wines and olive oils in California’s Central Coast. The site was planted to winegrapes in the 1850s by Frenchman Theophile Vache who chose the location because of the maritime climate and unique soils.

Pietra Santa is 25 miles from Monterey Bay and benefits from cool coastal breezes that allow for a long growing season. The estate’s location on the San Andreas Fault creates soils rich with granite and limestone that naturally lower yields and add distinctive flavors to the wines. The winery was named PIETRA SANTA, Italian for SACRED STONE, in honor of these exceptional soils.

In 2005, the property was purchased by the Blackburns, a family dedicated to preserving and building upon this magnificent winemaking history.”-pietrasantawinery.com

The Estate: “Due to the mountainous terrain, only 120 of the estate’s 450 acres are planted with wine grapes. An additional 25 acres are planted with olive trees. The oldest vines consist of a treasured block of Zinfandel planted in 1905. Completed in 2000, the Mission-Style Winery was designed for fine winemaking combining traditional methods and state-of-the-art technology. The winery also hosts a FRANTOIO (olive oil press room) equipped with a Pieralisi Press imported from Tuscany.”-pietrasantawinery.com

Vineyards/Winemaking: “Our Pinot Noir comes from vines that are planted in the upper valley of our estate at an elevation of approximately 1100 feet.  The grapes benefit from a maritime climate and ideal soils for growing expressive Pinot Noir.  The vineyard was planted with three Dijon clones – #115, #828, and #777 – to create the optimal flavor profile for our estate Pinot Noir.”-pietrasantinery.com

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir

Alcohol: 14.5% by volume

Food Pairings: Great with spring chicken, slow cooked pork shoulder, pan seared duck breasts, and shaved raw asparagus with fennel. Enjoy.

Tasting Notes: Their Estate Pinot Noir is an ideal reflection of their terroir, renowned for growing this finicky varietal. This wine has a beautiful bouquet of subtle lavender and elegant fruit flavors of wild strawberries and raspberries with hints of cola. The wine finishes with white pepper and an earthiness that is synonymous with the Cienega Valley.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Real Pinot here. A wine that is loaded with rhubarb and raspberries, and ends with a long clean lingering finish. A true overachiever. Best served with duck, oily finish and any game!”-JL

July Imported Wine: 2010 Chateau Moulin de Grenet AOP Lussac St. Emilion, Bordeaux, FRANCE

Nicole Roskam-Brunot and her sons, 4th generation, perpetuate a family passion for elaborating great wines of St. Emilion. Their philosophy is to obtain the highest quality, authenticity, terroir and vintage expression on each vintage.

Surrounding a picturesque windmill (1711), former land of the Faize Abbey, the Moulin de Grenet vineyard is located on one of the highest hills of its appellation. Well rooted on its slopes and limestone plateau, the vines enjoy an abundance of sun and draw their quality from the terroir to give the wines their generous, fruity and mineral personality. The vineyard practices sustainable agriculture.

Designated Growing Area: AOP Lussac St. Emilion

Soil: Clay & Limestone

The Estate: The 4.5 hectares of vines have an average yield of 40-45 hl/ ha. The grapes undergo traditional vinifcation and are aged in barrel for 16 – 18 months. Approximately 30,000 bottles of this wine are produced.

Varietals: 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc

Alcohol: 12.5% by volume

Food Pairings: The soft tannins and plummy fruit character of Merlot-driven Pomerol and Saint Emilion pair well with roast duck, cornish hens, roast chicken, pork tenderloin, pork chops and soft cheeses such as Morbier, Camembert and Gouda.

Notes: This wine derives its personality from its clay and limestone terroir and an abundance of sun. It has a pretty ruby color. The nose reveals nice aromas of fruits and spices. The mouth is round and juicy. The finale is expressive. A traditional and generous Lussac St. Emilion.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “St. Emilion from a great vintage. This wine is rich and layered with classic elegance. Is it silk or satin; or maybe both? Savory with a long finish. Great served with lamb of the BBQ.”-JL