Let me make this perfectly clear: if Pedroncelli Winery is not on your radar, you need to up your game a bit, as I cannot think of another winery that consistently delivers excellent wines at such appealing price points.
I’ll even go farther: simply put, Pedroncelli sells their wines for far too little and I have been telling them that for years. The good news for the consumer is that they are highly unlikely to listen to me. For the past 92 years, the family-owned winery has aimed to produce honest wines at affordable prices and that is precisely what they do.
The winery is located in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley, which is perhaps best known for its Zinfandel. But the Valley as a whole and the Pedroncellis, in particular, produce much more than Zin, from tangy Sauvignon Blanc to rich and earthy Cabernet Sauvignon.
Here are a few Pedroncelli wines that I have tried recently:
2017 Pedroncelli Chardonnay Signature Selection Dry Creek Valley: Retail $17. Under screw. Only about 16% of this wine sees any oak and it shows: bright and fruity with lemon, tangerine, and guava followed by zingy acidity and plenty of fruit. This wine defies the traditional notion of “California Chardonnay” with bright flavors and a carefree spirit. Yum. Very Good To Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2018 Pedroncelli friends.white Sonoma County: Retail $13. A Blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer. The marriage of two aromatic whites seems odd on paper but certainly works in my glass: floral (acacia), exotic fruit (guava and papaya), and a bit of minerality. Plenty of fruit on the palate, that initially comes off as a tad sweet, but shifts gears into a dry, fruit and mineral-driven wine. Tons of fun and plenty of zest, this is certainly a crowd pleaser. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2017 Pedroncelli Sauvignon Blanc East Side Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma: Retail $17. This SB was included as a “wine to drink while cooking since we drink wine when we cook.” You have to respect that, I don’t care who you are. Pale yellow with a decided green tint, this wine exudes sweet fruit aromas (ripe melon, candied peach) as well as a bit of citrus (lime being the driving element). On the palate, this is very un-SB-like: tons of tree fruit (peach being dominant), so much so that it comes off sweet (even though there is less than 1% residual sugar). The acidity, though certainly present, is much more dialed back than usual with this variety. All of which suggests a later harvest than might be the norm with SB. Tasted blind, I think many would have trouble identifying the wine. Quite the pleasant quaff. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2017 Pedroncelli friends.red Sonoma County: Retail $13. Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah. Under screw. I have had the white version of this wine a couple of times, but this is my first encounter with the red. Fruity, really fruity, but in a very good way. Mostly tiny red berry fruit with touches of pepper and cocoa. On the palate, this is far from a one trick pony–sure there is fruit, and plenty of it, but there is depth, secondary flavors of earth and black pepper. Wow! All this for $13?? Buy it by the case. Seriously. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2016 Pedroncelli Zinfandel Mother Clone Dry Creek Valley: Retail $19. In 1980, the Pedroncelli’s took cuttings from the original ranch purchased by John Pedroncelli, Sr. in 1927, which had been first planted to Zinfandel in 1904, and planted them on their estate property, resulting in “The Mother Clone Vineyard.” Dark in the glass with luscious blackberry fruit and hints of clove and black pepper. On the palate? Wow: that rich fruit, vanilla, and spice. Big without being boisterous, fruity without being over-the-top, zesty without being overbearing. Wow, this is good. And just short of a Whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2016 Pedroncelli Cabernet Sauvignon Three Vineyards Dry Creek Valley: Retail $20. Dry Creek is best known for Zinfandel, which is certainly true, but there are many in the Valley that stress the appellation’s versatility. While most of the Cabernet and Merlot grown in Dry Creek end up in wines from different appellations, there are more than a few Dry Creek growers and producers that feel that Bordeaux varieties are better suited for the soils and climate than Zin. This wine lends credence to that sentiment with aromas of blackberry, clove, and black pepper emanating from the dark elixir. Plenty of fruit on the palate with anise, the aforementioned blackberry, and a chalky, slightly tannic finish. An easy drinker that will likely improve in the short term. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2016 Pedroncelli Sonoma Classico Barrel Select, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma: Retail $19. “A proprietary blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Syrah.” The Petite Sirah renders this wine rather dark in the glass with baked blackberry, dark cherry, and vanilla predominant on the nose. Rich and fruity initially with a blackberry pie à la mode vibe going on. Some spice comes in on the mid-palate and then a wave of acidity and some slightly above subtle tannins on the finish. Without a doubt this is a versatile wine–there is enough depth to justify introspection, but all enough joy to throw caution to the wind. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2016 Pedroncelli Zinfandel Bushnell Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma: Retail $26. Few would describe Pedroncelli as “fancy”–they are salt of the earth people who make honest wines for an honest price. I am not sure if they would agree, but I would venture to guess that they would consider this wine as “fancy” at least for them since a) it comes in a fancy etched bottle and b) it retails at a whopping 26 bucks. And it’s worth it, and then some. Dark, firmly past translucent, with the essence of blackberry, anise, black pepper, and Christmas spice, this is not a “typical” Zin. This is big without being boastful, powerful without being overwhelming, and racy while being elegant. I am not normally a Zin kind of guy, but this has all the elements that Zin aficionados love, while also appealing to the non-Zin crowd. A beautiful study in contrasts, this is easily among my favorite Zins. Bravo. Excellent. 91-93 Points.