After tasting the Theopolis Vineyards 2015 Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir, I was absolutely curious to try Theodora’s take on the grapes from Santa Lucia Highland. While both Yorkville and Santa Lucia are mountainous regions whose climates and terroir are affected by their proximity to the ocean, my lone experience with the Yorkville expression of Pinot Noir could not have been more different than my multiple experiences of the grapes from SLH. So to taste the juxtaposition from this talented winemaker was both a treat and an educational experience.

About the Wine: The Theopolis Vineyards 2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes sourced from vineyards located in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County. The juice was fermented in  0.75 ton bins, with manual daily punched downs. The wine then aged in 100% French oak barrels (40% “new” [one year old]; 60% neutral) for 10 months.

This Pinot Noir was bottled unfined and unfiltered.

14.6% ABF

Flavor Profile: Out of the bottle of the Theopolis Vineyards 2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir wafts dense aromas of blueberry reduction sauce, complete with the semi-sweet scent of balsamic. On the pour, this Pinot Noir is a pale, see-through rouge hue, settling into the glass with a very rusty rouge color, reminiscent of strawberry fruit leather.

Initial aromas are of black cherry, vanilla, and wild strawberries warmed by the summer sun. There’s an obvious, generous dose of acidity so swirl the wine around. Swirl, and release secondary aromas of fresh basil, a background of perfume, and enliven those cherry and strawberry notes.

The body of the Theopolis Vineyards 2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir is light, but the palate is immediately spice-filled with white pepper, cardamom, and the juicy-bloody umami of a medium-rare meat. The acidity is strong and steady, keeping a constant element of freshness throughout the tasting. Other flavors include wild strawberry, a seaside funk, edible flowers, and that fresh basil.

Food Pairing: I paired the Theopolis Vineyards 2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir with a pizza. Yes, it was another pizza and Pinot party at the Briscoe household that evening. What I loved about this pairing was that, despite some of the intensity of the notes from above, as I said the wine is actually quite light-bodied and, thus, a good pairing for something like pizza.

One thing I will note is that some of the flavors and textures did seem a bit disparate to my palate. So while this wine is fully enjoyable now, it has a modest aging potential as well. It’d be great to re-live this wine even just one year from now to see how it evolves.

More Info: I received the Theopolis Vineyards 2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir as a sample for review. (Cheers Theodora!) Retail: $45. For more information about Theopolis Vineyards, their wine and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Theopolis Vineyards website.

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