Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Clos Pegase Winery

Clos Pegase Winery near Calistoga makes one of the most appealing Napa Valley Pinot Noirs we have tasted.  It also has an interesting modern art display.

Jan and Mitsuko Shrem purchased Clos Pegase in the Calistoga AVA in 1983.  In 1984 they hosted architectural competition through the San Francisco Museum of Modern art and 96 architects competed to design a "temple to wine."  Michael Graves won the contest and designed the beautiful winery building that was completed in 1987, the same year as their first release. What started out as 50 acres eventually became 450 (286 planted in vineyards) and includes a gorgeously landscaped grounds with a lovely fountain and a Henry Moore sculpture plus 20,000 square feet of wine caves.  Mitsuko passed away in 2010 but Jan Shrem, the founder, continues to be the proprietor.  Richard Sowalsky is their winemaker.

The Clos Pegase 2008 Mitsuko's Vineyard Pinot Noir is from Carneros (of course) and was rated very highly at 90 by Wine Enthusiast, although I'd rate it even higher. With cherry on the nose and some raspberry on the palate, it was perfectly balanced with nice acids, a great mouth feel and good (but not excessive) substance.  This is not one of your overly thin, fruity little Pinot Noirs, one that taste more like Beaujolais nouveau that PN.  This Pinot Noir sells for a mere $35 retail or $28 club price. Compare that price to the best Oregon or Russian River PN or a good red Burgundy.  It is a fabulous wine at that price.

We also recommend the Clos Pegase 2007 Napa Valley Syrah at $29.75 and the Clos Pegase 2008 Dunaweal Vineyard Pegaso Red with 60% Zin and 40% Petite Sirah, a most interesting and unusual blend, at $28.50 plus the very luscious Clos Pegase 2006 Hommage Cabernet Sauvignon that sells for $90 and was rated 92 by the Wine Enthusiast.  All four of the wines we tried were winners, with the Pinot Noir being our favorite. I later opened a bottle of the Pinot and gave my wife (who usually prefers white wine) a glass without telling her how much I liked it and her reaction was, "What is this?  It is really good!"

Clos Pegase Winery has an Estate Tasting for $20 and a Reserve Tasting for $35.  (Check for current prices.) Club Members receive a 20% discount on wine and everyone can get a 10% discount on six bottles or 15% on a case. Our server, Steve, was very professional and informative.  Clos Pegase also has some modern artwork that makes it worthwhile to visit the winery even if you don't do a tasting.  We were pleasantly surprised at how good their wines were for the money, especially the Pinot Noir and highly recommend a visit to Clos Pegase.

If you can't make it there for a visit, you might want to try some of their wines, especially the Pinot Noir.  Be sure to get only the 2008, though, because this appears to be a special year for their PN and it is the only PN of theirs we tasted.  The Wine Enthusiast says of the 2008, "Quite a nice Pinot Noir and in fact the winery's best in a number of years."

Obviously we bought a number of bottles of the Pinot Noir and absolutely loved drinking it.  We also bought some of the Pegaso Red and it tasted even better at home than it did at the winery.  Clos Pegase Winery seems to be underrated by some.  If you can't visit their winery, try the Pinot Noir and consider the Pegaso Red.

Clos Pegase Winery
1060 Dunaweal Ln
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-4981
Visited: November 23, 2011

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