Two Garys, One Garysâ€™ Vineyard
In short, Gary and Gary are childhood friends.Â Together, they manage Garysâ€™ Vineyard.Â Gary F. is married to Rosella and they own Rosellaâ€™s VineyardÂ and makes ROAR wines.Â Gary P. owns Pisoni Vineyards and makes Pisoni Estate Wines.Â The fine-print to follow explains how they got into farming the unfriendly terrain of the Santa Lucia Highlands (before it was popular) and the incredible success they have enjoyed from their skill and perseverance. They make cult wines.
What makes a wine a â€œcultâ€ wine?Â Before all the mailing lists and allocations and press come into play, there have to be great grapes and then really good wine.Â The two Garys, Gary Franscioni and Gary Pisoni, understand these fundamentals, and that has propelled them to â€œCult Statusâ€ in the world of pinot noir.
Both have families that have been in the Santa Lucia Highlands farming business for generations.Â Each eventually turned his focus to viticulture;Â Pisoni Vineyard was planted in 1982(!),Â Rosellsâ€™a in 1996, and Garysâ€™ in 1997.Â Â All are among the most celebrated and coveted in California.
2006 Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
Only 687 cases made.
Have you ever been to a $250 lettuce tasting?
Winegrower Gary Pisoni comes from generations of farmers who tended row crops long before he was born. Pisoni had enjoyed drinking and collecting French wines while in college and was eager to find a way into the wine business. When he told his father he wanted to plant grapevines on the family cattle ranch in the Santa Lucia Highlands, he was met with several objections, not the least of which was the cost. Gary countered to his father, â€œHave you ever been to a $250 lettuce tasting?â€ His father relented and a legendary vineyard was born in 1982. Garyâ€™s positive energy has made him a household name among Pinot circles.
Gary planted his own-rooted vines in virgin soil. It took ten yearsÂ and six tries of witchers and well drillers to tap into a water source and make Garyâ€™s dream come true. The original vines are rumored to be from suitcase cuttings from a famous domaine in Vosne-Romanee, hence called the Pisoni clone.
Pisoni fruit is highly highly prized in California. Designated as one of the worldâ€™s top 10 vineyards and one of Americaâ€™s 5 Grand Crus, Pisoni Vineyard put Santa Lucia Highlands on the map. Following the traditional Burgundian model, three generations of the Pisoni family grow premium grapes, selling to top artisan producers of vineyard-designated winesâ€”Arcadian, Capiaux, Morgan, Patz & Hall, Peter Michael, Siduri, Tantara, and Testarossa among themâ€”and retaining a small percentage to produce one single Pisoni Estate wine, which saw its first vintage in 1998.
Gary Pisoni and his family have never wavered in their belief that Pinot Noir is the greatest red varietal on the planet and that the slopes of the Santa Lucia Highlands in the cool northern climes of Californiaâ€™s Monterey County are the best place to grow Pinot Noir. His familyâ€™s intense obsession with growing the worldâ€™s best Pinot Noir shows in every bottle from their unique vineyard.
â€œA fabulous effort from the irrepressible Gary Pisoni, this deep ruby/purple-hued 2006 exhibits a sensational perfume of spring flowers, forest floor, black raspberries, even blacker berries, and hints of smoke as well as earth. A sensational texture, full-bodied mouthfeel, and no sense of heaviness suggest this well-structured, moderately tannic wine will last for at least a decade.â€ Robert Parker 95+.Â $100 bt at currentVintage.
2007 ROAR SLH
Only 818 cs made.
In part because so many fine and dedicated producers use the grapes from Rosella’s Vineyard and in part because those grapes are especially tasty, this property owned by Gary and Rosella Franscioni has produced more great bottlings of Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot noir in the past few years than any other location in California! Roar is the Franscioni’s own label and their roots in the Santa Lucia Highlands are quite deep. The Franscionis both grew up in California’s agricultural heartland; Gary and his family before him have farmed their vineyard property for over 100 years. Gary took over the running of the 200 acre family farm business and recognized the region’s potential for premium wine grapes, planting the Rosella’s Vineyard in 1996. In 2001, the Franscionis partnered with good friends (and longtime customers) Adam & Dianna Lee of Siduri Wines agreed to collaborate on the making of ROAR WINES. Their collective goal is to make small lots of wine that are a pure reflection of the Santa Lucia Highlands. The name ROAR comes from the sound of the coastal winds that define the region and the roar of the mountain creeks that bisect the rocky, well-drained soils of our vineyards. $65 at currentVintage.
2007 Siduri Rosellaâ€™s Vineyard Pinot Noir
Only 730 cases made.
The 2007 Siduri Rosellaâ€™s Vineyard Pinot Noir ended up being a blend of 40% Clone 777, 20% Pisoni Selection, 20% Pommard, and 20% 828 Clone. Whole clusters on both the Pisoni Selection and the Pommard are used and fermented with primarily indigenous yeasts. They bled off approximately 10% of the juice from each of the fermentors in hopes of concentrating the must.Â The Lees believe this is their best â€œRosellaâ€™sâ€ pinot noir to date.
â€œSupple and engaging, with ripe, generous plum, black cherry, mineral, spice and subtle cedary oak nuances. This full-bodied Pinot possesses depth, concentration and complexity, with excellent balance and length. Drink now through 2015.â€ WS 93.Â $52 at currentVintage.
2005 Loring Wine Company â€œRosellaâ€™s Vineyardâ€ Pinot Noir
Only 825 cases made.
Brian Loring is obsessed with Pinot Noir.Â Â After years of loving Burgundies, he discovered Calera (and Williams Selyem, et al) and fell in love with California pinot noir.Â He then met Norm Beko from Cottonwood Canyon at an Orange County Wine Society tasting, participated in his first wine crush, and ended up making two barrels of Pinot Noir from which he started the Loring Wine Company. What had been a dream for 15 years was now a reality: he was a winemaker–and he has been a highly acclaimed one since the start!
This medium-bodied Pinot made by Loring Wine Co shows plenty of sweet and sour cherry, strawberry, plum, earth, and herb characteristics. For the Santa Lucia highlands, the 2005 vintage was one of the coolest in the past decade. Yields turned out larger than expected as the clusters kept putting on weight even late into the season – which is very unusual. These two factors combined to create a vintage of lighter style, more elegant, lower alcohol wines. Because of their higher tannins and acid content, these wines will probably be some of the longest-lived wines Loring has ever made: they may hold up for 6-7 years..
â€œBright, full red. Complex nose melds raspberry, smoke, earth, cocoa powder and spices.Rich, broad and suave, with lovely brightness to its tangy raspberry and spice flavors.Here, too, one gets a sense of Burgundian spice and lift. Finishes with lovely persistence and energy. This would be a good answer to those who don’t believe that pinot noir in this area can be sufficiently ripe below 14% alcohol.â€ ST 91 points
â€œAn elegant style, showing a measure of restraint and subtlety, with vivid black cherry, nutmeg and a hint of boysenberry fruit emerging on the finish. Drink now through 2010.â€ WS 90. $75 at currentVintage.