2017 Pepper Bridge Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, $60
Winery Info: Founded in 1988 when Norm McKibben acquired the Pepper family’s farm in Walla Walla.
He and his partners began planting grapes in 1991 and the fruit was soon in high demand (their first customers included Leonetti, Woodward Canyon, and L’Ecole No. 41). Their sustainably-farmed estate vineyards, Pepper Bridge, Seven Hills, and Octave, continue to produce some of the most sought after grapes in the state. In 1999 they hired Swiss native and son of a long-time wine growing family, Jean-François Pellet. He studied and trained in Europe, then managed vineyards and produced wines in Switzerland and Spain, before coming to the U.S to work at Heitz in Napa until he was recruited by Pepper Bridge, where he continues to make the wines today.
Grapes: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot, aged 20 months in 100% French oak, 55% neutral and 45% new.
Vineyards: 55% Seven Hills, 24% Pepper Bridge, 12% Octave, and 9% Yellow Jacket vineyards.
Flavor Profile: The 2017 vintage was colder than usual through the spring, but warmed later in the season, providing perfect conditions for the fruit to ripen fully with good balance of flavors. This wine is wonderfully aromatic, with notes of blackberry and cassis, and a touch of savory herbs. It is full bodied and silky smooth on the palate, with beautiful texture, depth, and expressiveness.
Availability: 1,984 cases produced. This vintage of Pepper Bridge Cab is almost gone.
Drinking Window: Enjoy anytime, now, or over the next five years or so.
Food Pairing: Our rep for this wine (and very inspired cook!) suggests a cast-iron-seared New York strip steak with garlic and a bit of thyme, or grilled lamb chops with cracked pepper, sea salt and chopped fresh rosemary along with cous cous with sun-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts.
2019 Domaine Pierre Vessigaud, Pouilly-Fuissé, Vieilles Vignes, $38
Winery Info: Domaine Vessigaud is a small family estate founded in 1839 in the hamlet of Pouilly, in the highly-regarded Pouilly-Fuissé appellation of southern Burgundy’s Mâcon district. Pierre Vessigaud represents the fifth generation to oversee the winery and he has been working organically since he took over in 1988. His vines are planted on chalky clay soils with marl and stones and the vineyards are plowed by hand. All fermentations are spontaneous, using only wild yeasts.
Grapes: 100% Chardonnay from vines averaging 45 years in age, aged 18 months on fine lees in neutral Burgundian oak barrels.
Vineyard: Sourced from about 22 micro-vineyard plots (including “Les Tâches,” “Les Combettes,” and Les Ménétrières”), all in the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation, with a variety of soil types and orientations.
Flavor Profile: Blending fruit from different plots gives this wine remarkable complexity and balance. It has lovely aromas of ripe orchard fruit with notes of almonds and spice, and is fresh, yet concentrated, with food-friendly acidity and a long, bright finish. A beautiful white Burgundy.
Availability: Pierre makes only about 250 cases of this wine a year and it is fairly limited in supply.
Drinking Window: Enjoy this wine now or over the next five years.
Food Pairing: The winery suggests pairing it with Bresse chicken, seafood, oysters, or foie gras.