A Perfectly-Cellared Classic
Joe Davis of Arcadian Winery is a ratings juggernaut and his wines are manna for Wine Access clients: The last time we offered his 2011 Clos Pepe Chardonnay, the entire allocation was spoken for within hours. We raided his cellar once again and came away with 35 perfectly cellared cases, available at 35% off the winery price. Drawn off the famous Clos Pepe vineyard, this phenomenal, Burgundian white had Galloni gushing “superb” and pinning on 95 points.
Clos Pepe is widely admired as an ideal spot for Chardonnay. At the western tip of the northern Sta. Rita Hills, the soil is sandy and the nights warmer than on the Sonoma Coast. The unusual east-west orientation of the valley, the fog, and the cold breezes gusting off the frigid Pacific provide Clos Pepe with a distinct microclimate that is near perfect for Chardonnay. Since the sandy soil doesn’t hold water well, vines are stressed and yields correspondingly low. In 2011, Chardonnay clusters were small with BB-sized berries. Acids were brisk, but the natural sugars provided beautiful rich textures.
With the possible exception of Steve Kistler, there’s no other winemaker in California who comes close to pushing the envelope in the cellar as much as Joe Davis. “Galloni thinks I’m nuts!” Davis told us. “But knowing that our wines benefit significantly from age, we took it upon ourselves to do that aging so the customer doesn’t have to.” This is one you have to taste to believe. After gathering steam for more than four years in barrel, the result is a fantastically aromatic, rich Burgundian look-alike that wowed Galloni and everyone sitting around our tasting table.