Peay, Sonoma Coast | 538 Wine Notes

2013 Pinot Noir ‘Scallop Shelf’


Peay Vineyards seeks to make elegant, balanced and terroir-driven Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay from their estate vineyard located in the far northwestern corner of the West Sonoma Coast. Their organically farmed 51-acre hilltop vineyard is located 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Husband and wife, Nick Peay and Vanessa Wong, grow and make the wine while Nick’s brother, Andy, sells the wine.

The Peay team led a pursuit of aromatic, elegant, red-fruited Pinot noir to the chilly edge of the West Sonoma Coast just 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Due to the cool, moderate weather they experience quite a long growing season that allows to pick fruit that is ripe without the encumbrance of too much sugar (and resulting alcohol), yet retains the refreshing acidity and top noted aromatics that make Pinot noir so engaging.

Peay grows 35 acres of Pinot noir split in to 20-25 separate blocks based on clonal selection (13 and counting), aspect, elevation (600-775 feet) and various other factors. They are picked individually and vinified as 20-25 separate Pinot noirs each vintage. The three estate blends (Ama, Pomarium and Scallop Shelf) are each a combination of 5-6 clones and blocks and do not represent a specific area of the vineyard but instead are an expression of Pinot noir from the vineyard. They make these blends without knowledge of how many cases of each wine will produce, how much new oak is involved, or what clones are in which wine. This “blind” process keeps them focused on making the absolute best expression of that blend without any financial or other considerations. Any barrels that do not go into one of the estate wines are blended with wines made from neighboring vineyards to make the Sonoma Coast cuvee. That process is also blind and any remaining barrels are declassified and comprise the Cep Pinot noir.

The Peay style is separating vineyard plots, clones into separate barrels and making those wines separately. Then blending the barrels that communicate with each other and create that, sometimes, unspeakable style that raises the sum of the parts. The winemaking team, literally taste and think, “This is Scallop Shelf, that is Ama” and create the wine based on those perceptions. I am an admirer of the thought that goes into each cuvée.