Thirty Santa Lucia Highlands winemakers came together for the Santa Lucia Highland Gala on Saturday May 18 at Mer Soleil Winery in Monterey County, serving wine lovers some of the best Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and more. Mer Soleil, part of the Wagner family group of wineries, hosted the event and the crowds gathered at the Mer Soleil barrel room for this sold out event loved the location. The Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans association provided the visitors with a great selection of hors d’oeuvres that paired well with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Santa Lucia Highlands is truly a special place for winegrowing, particularly Burgundian varietals such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This premier cool-climate winegrowing district has over fifty of the most famous premier Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards are located here. Almost 80% of the vineyards here are dedicated to these two Burgundian varietals, with many Rhone varietals occupying much of the rest.
You can’t go wrong with any of the wines from this premium region, with grapes from such high end vineyards as Rosella, Garys’, Pisoni, Soberanes, Sierra Mar, Tondre and Doctors. There were a few wines that particularly stood out.
The Belle Glos 2011 Pinot Noir from Las Alturas Vineyard came from grapes grown on one of the highest plantable sites in Santa Lucia Highlands. On the nose you are treated to nice aromas of raspberry, blackberry and black cherry with a touch of earthiness. These continue on to the palate with the addition of plum and certain meatiness, leading to a beautiful long finish.
Kori Violini from Kori Wines was there with her 2010 Estate Chardonnay and the 2010 Estate Pinot Noir from KW Ranch Vineyard. The Pinot Noir has a nice purple color and aromas and flavors of black raspberries, plum, licorice and spice. It has a nice velvety texture and a touch of minerality.
Mer Soleil Vineyards shard their 2010 Chardonnay, 2010 “Silver” Chardonnay and the 2004 Late Harvest Viognier. The 2011 unoaked “Silver” Chardonnay was a particular delight with its bright minerality, and fresh flavors of lemon and grapefruit. The acidity level would make this a great summer wine.
Paraiso Vineyards has some of the best vineyards in the region. The 2009 Faite Pinot Noir is their high end Pinot and truly is an excellent wine with rich full notes of black cherry, black raspberry, currants and spice. It is very nicely balanced from the nose to the finish.
La Rochelle Winery has been producing wines from grapes grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands for years. Both winemaker Tom Stutz and owner Steven Kent Mirassou were there pouring their 2009 Blanc de Noir Sparkling from McIntrye Vineyard, 2010 Rosella’s Vineyard Chardonnay, 2009 Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir and 2010 Soberanes Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Other vintners pouring at the Santa Lucia Highlands Gala included August West, Bernardus, Boekenoogen, Hahn, Hope & Grace, J. Lohr – Highlands Bench, Loring, Lucienne, Mansfield – Dunne, Manzoni, McIntyre, Mer Soleil, Miura, Morgan, Novy, Paraiso, Pelerin, Percheron – McFarland, Pessagno, Pisoni – Lucia, Poppy, Puma Road, Roar, Scheid, Siduri, Testarossa, Tondre, Tudor and Wrath.
For more information:
- Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans Association
- Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Map
- Belle Glos
- Kori Wines
- La Rochelle
- Mer Soleil Vineyards
- Paraiso Vineyards