Last week, I chronicled my relationship with Ed St. John of Pedroncelli Winery in Dry Creek Valley. Without rehashing the fact that we tend to tick off everyone within earshot (including each other) when we get together, we also tend to taste through several outstanding bottles of wine.
The last time we met, when Ed came to visit the past Fall, we first tasted through some of Pedroncelli’s larger production wines. After catching our breath (and criticizing each other’s politics), we cracked open several of the winery’s single-vineyard wines. As I mention in a couple of the notes below, I am not sure that there are better values available. I have told Ed on several occasions that the prices on these wines are simply too low. Luckily for the consumer, Ed never listens to me.
2016 Pedroncelli Cabernet Sauvignon Block 007: Retail $26. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot. This is a fine example of the higher line of wines from Pedroncelli, but like all the wines from the winery, they are tremendous values. Dark red fruit, anise, black pepper, plenty going on with this fairly dark wine. Fantastic on the palate as well, with rich, but far from overbearing fruit, plenty of depth, and enough tannin on the finish to suggest that it has a healthy future, at least for 3-5 years, likely more. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 Pedroncelli Cabernet Sauvignon Three Vineyards Dry Creek Valley: Retail $20. 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec. This wine comes from a blend of five grapes from three vineyards and is simply delicious. On night one, the fruit was the story: red-berried and black currant, with a touch of spice and a hint of Bay leaf. On night two, much more complex as the fruit has calmed, if only slightly. More tobacco and forest floor on the nose, with depth and richness on the palate. At 20 bucks, buy a case of this wine. Drink half over the next year with barbecue, burgers, pizza, just about anything. Save the rest for a half a decade or so, and when you eventually open a bottle, kick yourself for not buying more. Day One: Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points. Day Two: Outstanding. 90-92+ Points.
2016 Pedroncelli Courage Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Faloni Vineyard: Retail $32. 100% Zinfandel. Another wine that I tasted over two days and it was a similar experience to the Three Vineyards Cab: Day One was fruity and full, while Day Two showed more spice and depth. Black currant, blackberries, a brambly characteristic, and plenty of spice. This is by no means a shrinking violet, it is bold, confident, and far from shy, but with time it develops into a more elegant version of itself. This is a complicated wine without the negative connotation–it is big and boisterous initially, but it gains in complexity and verve with every moment that passes. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2016 Pedroncelli Merlot Bench Vineyards Dry Creek Valley: Retail $18. I am not much of a Merlot lover. I realize that is not a very bold statement, nor does it put me in select company, but it is a fact—I struggle to find the proper place for the variety. Grilling up a Texas-sized steak? Cabernet Sauvignon (or even Syrah, depending on the rub). Pork chop? Salmon filet? Looking for a more delicate red? Easy. Pinot Noir. There is also the occasional Zinfandel, Grenache, and Tempranillo (e.g.), but those are mostly associated with specific regions or cuisines. Merlot? It is a grape without a region, a wine without a cuisine. And then there was Sideways. So, I am usually at a loss as to what to do with Merlot. Then I opened this Pedroncelli Merlot and I immediately left all of those preconceptions behind. This is delicious. No, it’s not earth shattering or mind-blowing, but it is scrumptious to the point that you really don’t care what you are eating (or even eating at all). Great fruit, a touch of earth, some anise, a dash of spice, and plenty of verve. For twenty bucks? I have said for a while now that the folks at Pedroncelli charge far too little for their wines. I suggest you buy them now before they wise up and listen to me. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 Pedroncelli Wisdom Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley: Retail $36. 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot. Pedroncelli was the first winery to wisely plant Cabernet in Dry Creek Valley back in 1965, and now it is the most widely planted grape in the AVA (no, it’s not Zinfandel). Lovely crimson in the glass with red fruit and some subtle green notes, which I love. The palate is fantastic: fruit, acidity, and tannins all in balance. I am not sure what effect, if any, this has on my cognitive abilities, but I do know that I feel pretty smart drinking it. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2016 Pedroncelli Zinfandel Bushnell Vineyard: Retail $26. Like the Block 007 Cabernet, this wine is from the upper echelon of Pedroncelli’s vast line. Rich red fruit and quite spicy, both on the nose and the palate, this is certainly not shy. Big and bold, with a touch of heat (16.1% ABV) on the finish, this wine is not for the faint of heart with all that heft and all that rich fruit. This vineyard has been associated with the Pedroncelli family since it was purchased by John Pedroncelli, Sr. in 1943. A well-made Zin, in the more “traditional” style, and if you like your Zins that way, this will be right up your alley. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.