2013 Peay Vineyards, La Bruma Estate Syrah, $57.25
Winery info: Peay is a first-generation family winery based in Cloverdale, California run by husband and wife team Nick Peay and Vanessa Wong. They bought an old apple orchard and sheep ranch in 1996 and planted their first 30 acres in 1998. Their first vintage was in 2002.
Winemaker: Vanessa (who previously worked at Peter Michael Winery, Château Lafite-Rothschild, Domaine Jean Gros, and Hirsch Winery). Nick, UC Davis-trained, and experienced Santa Cruz winemaker, manages the vineyard.
Grapes: 100% Syrah, farmed organically
Vineyard source: Peay’s estate La Bruma Vineyard, is located on a ridge, just four miles from the coast—one of the coolest sites in California to grow Syrah.
Flavor profile: The cooler growing conditions of the vineyard tend produce more bright, savory flavors. But it also allows the fruit to hang longer on the vine before it gets fully ripe, thus fully developing the floral, fruit flavors. This vintage is rich, but not too ripe, with red and black fruit flavors, white pepper notes, and wonderful structure and balance.
Production/Availability: They produced only 300 cases of this wine, and it is already gone. We may have a bottle or two left.
Drinkability: Best in three to eight years.
Food Pairing: A great match with dishes that have white pepper or peppercorn flavors.
2013 Domaine Font de Michelle, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, $39.75
Winery info: The history of the Gonnet family at their site in the southeast of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape dates back to 1600. In 1950 Etienne Gonnet created Font de Michelle AOC. His sons Jean and Michel took over after him and today their sons Bertand and Guillaume oversee the estate.
Winemaker: Cousins Bertrand and Guillaume Gonnet
Grapes: Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette, Bourboulenc. The Roussanne is aged in oak for nine months.
Vineyard source: The vineyards are planted in clay and limestone soil, covered with stones that absorb heat during the day and radiate it back during the night.
Flavor profile: Beautifully aromatic and textured, with a clean, lingering finish.
Availability: We bought all we could and have a tiny amount left.
Drinkability: This wine can be enjoyed young, but it will also continue to develop as it ages.
Food Pairing: As tempting as it might be to enjoy this one on its own, white Châteauneuf-du-Pape goes very well with a wide variety of foods, particularly olive-oil based dishes. Or with seafood, such as lobster or seared scallops.