Parker’s Burgundy-Trained “Elegance”
WWe’re going to make this one easy. Burgundy-trained Dean De Korth’s 2014 Monterey County Pinot Noir is impeccably made, and rises above its peers in the price-to-value department. As Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate has said, “The wines made by Dean De Korth and are well worth checking out.” and “This is a gorgeous set of wines from Bernardus. These Chardonnays and Pinots all emphasize elegance....” Like Dean’s single-vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands beauties that stand toe-to-toe with the full-throttle Pinots of Kosta Browne, ROAR, and Siduri, this 2014 Bernardus Pinot hits all the marks in a mind-boggling under-$20 package. One of the Golden Coast’s top Pinot Noir vintages in the last decade results in a value Pinot Noir that knocks it out of the park. This stellar fruit — sourced mainly from Santa Lucia Highlands and Arroyo Seco — makes a Pinot of such quality, we did a double-take at the price. Just $19.99 for this stack-the-cellar deal from the winemaker who brought the Burgundy to the Central Coast.
Bernardus owner Ben Pon may have set out to rival the best of Bordeaux, but he was wise when he trusted winemaking duties to Burgundy-trained Dean De Korth. The Monterey native honed his winemaking skills with stints at legendary producers Leflaive, Lafon, and Morey, and returned home focused on replicating Burgundian quality and elegance on California’s coast.
Now more than a decade into their collaboration, Pon and De Korth have turned Bernardus into a California powerhouse, and not just because of sourcing relationships that give them their pick of fruit from the area’s priciest vineyards. With access to excellent fruit from throughout Monterey, Bernardus turns out delicious wines like the 2014 Monterey County Pinot, well below the price point of the swanky vineyard-designate wines that keep Bernardus on every critic’s radar.
The 2014 vintage — the third consecutive drought year — was far different from its predecessors. Though bud break and flowering was early, the set was far smaller. As fewer berries competed for the same nutrients, berry size was smaller and natural concentration correspondingly higher.