By Robert Fiore, Winemaker

With great pleasure as winemaker at Peter Michael Winery, I would like to introduce the spring 2022 offering, featuring wines that represent a collection of truly remarkable terroirs. While the vines are awakening this spring for another growing season, this current offering represents the prior years’ exceptional three vintages.

I am also pleased to introduce 2018 ‘Le Chapeau Blanc,’ the inaugural vintage of our newest wine, an extremely limited production Cabernet Franc from our Oakville Estate.


Harvest Notes

Oakville Estate, Napa Valley

Cabernet Franc, Merlot

The winter of 2017 and 2018 marked a return to normal cool temperatures in California. The rains were abundant in February, then diminished as budbreak occurred during the first week of April. Ideal weather during a delayed bloom allowed uniform flowering during the second week of June. Excellent weather with mild temperatures between 80º and 90ºF during the growing season continued throughout a long, unseasonably warm autumn.

Veraison occurred during the first and second weeks of August, and harvest for ‘Le Chapeau Blanc’ took place October 9 and 12. This vintage features a high quantity of refined, high-quality tannins and is a strong vintage for both collectors and connoisseurs.

Le Chapeau Blanc

Cabernet Blend

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Knights Valley Estate, Sonoma County

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot

Ample rainfall in the winter of 2019 ensured a full water soil profile to begin the growing season. Variable weather from budbreak to veraison resulted in less fruit setting than normal and one of the smallest crops in the last twenty years for Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot at the Knights Valley Estate. The summer was mild with a long ripening period of moderate heat, which helped deliver wines of extraordinary elegance and suppleness.

Les Pavots

Cabernet Blend

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Knights Valley Estate, Sonoma County

Chardonnay

The year 2020 saw the first February with no rainfall in recorded history. The rains eventually arrived, with some particularly late storms—into May and even the very beginning of June. The late spring rainfall produced a good water profile in the soil at the beginning of the growing season. As a result, fruit set was variable in our Chardonnay vineyards, bringing lower yields but high-quality fruit.

For our Knights Valley Estate Chardonnay vineyards, 2020 was overall a cooler growing season punctuated with a series of heat spikes in August and September. The Chardonnay harvest spanned six weeks, with the first Ma Belle-Fille block harvested August 19 and the last Belle Côte block coming in September 30.

La Carrière

Chardonnay

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Belle Côte

Chardonnay

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Tasting Notes

‘Les Pavots’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

Knights Valley, Sonoma County

Estate: Knights Valley
Single Vineyard:
Les Pavots (“The Poppies”)
Acres:
46.3­
Planted:
1989–1999
Soil:
Volcanic-origin rhyolite
Varieties:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot
Exposure:
Southern
Elevation:
1,000–1,400 feet

Winegrowing Notes

Grown on the slopes of Mount Saint Helena in Knights Valley, the distinctive aromas and flavors of our proprietary blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot display their hillside origins. Rocky, rhyolitic soils created through volcanic activity millennia ago contribute a mineral richness and add to the wine’s complexity. Spanning 46 acres, the red Les Pavots blocks ascend to an elevation of nearly 1,400 feet. Merlot and Cabernet Franc grow on the cool upper slopes, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot below.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-harvested: October 9–October 25
Blend:
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot
Aging:
Eighteen months in 100% French oak barrels from select artisan coopers
Bottled unfiltered:
May 14–17, 2021
Alcohol:
14.7%
Release Date:
April 1, 2022

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

The brilliant ruby-garnet 2019 ‘Les Pavots’ showcases an olfactory symphony of blackberry, dark chocolate, black cherry, and vanilla aromas, with supporting notes of tobacco, violets, and garrigue. A refined, elegant entry leads to a broad, graceful mid-palate with silky, fine-grained tannins, hints of black tea, blackberry pie, caramel, and cocoa powder, with a long, lingering finish. Although approachable in its youth, the 2019 ‘Les Pavots’ will reward four years of cellaring and continue to blossom for two decades.

‘La Carrière’ Estate Chardonnay

Knights Valley, Sonoma County

Estate: Knights Valley
Single Vineyard:
La Carrière (“The Quarry”)
Acres:
20
Planted:
1994
Soil:
Rocky, volcanic-origin rhyolite
Variety:
100% Chardonnay
Exposure:
South-southeast
Elevation:
1,200–1,700 feet

Winegrowing Notes

The name La Carrière aptly describes this site’s bowl shape and its tremendously rocky soils. Situated between 1,200 and 1,700 feet above sea level on steep mountain slopes exceeding 40 percent in grade, the vineyard has ideal southern and southeastern exposures. The site’s shallow rocky soils provide excellent drainage, low fertility, and usually the lowest yields on the estate. ‘La Carrière’, with its concentrated “liquid minerality,” effectively reflects its mountainous origin.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-harvested: August 25–September 12
Vinification: 100% naturally fermented using native yeast
100% barrel-fermented in 100% French oak from select artisan coopers
Aging: Barrel-aged sur lies for twelve months with weekly bâtonnage
Bottled unfined and unfiltered: February 7, 2022
Alcohol:
15%
Release Date:
April 1, 2022

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

The 2020 ‘La Carrière’ leaps from the glass with a bouquet of yellow spring flowers and baking spices, leading into notes of orange zest, lime blossoms, apricot, and lemon meringue pie, finishing with accents of vanilla custard. A focused entry is followed by a dense mid-palate with rich, oyster-shell structure, a creamy mouthfeel, and seamless harmony. Lemon custard, crème brûlée, acacia honey, and white peach flavors accompany the generous grand cru body of this wine.

‘Belle Côte’ Estate Chardonnay

Knights Valley, Sonoma County

Estate: Knights Valley
Single Vineyard:
Belle Côte (“Beautiful Slope”)
Acres:
15.5
Planted:
1990
Soil:
Volcanic-origin rhyolite
Variety:
100% Chardonnay
Exposure:
South-southeast
Elevation:
1,700–1,750 feet

Winegrowing Notes

As the oldest of the four Peter Michael Winery estate Chardonnay blocks, Belle Côte exemplifies the consistent quality of Chardonnay these mountain vineyards produce. Due to the naturally cool climate of the site’s high elevation, mitigation of exposure to the hot afternoon sun from its southeastern exposure, and a stand of trees on the western border, the vines are allowed to ripen slowly. The growing season for Belle Côte typically extends into October—two to three weeks longer than most Chardonnay vineyards in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-Harvested: September 3–September 23
Vinification:
100% naturally fermented using native yeast, 100% barrel-fermented in 100% French oak from select artisan coopers
Ageing:
Barrel-aged sur lies for twelve months with weekly bâtonnage
Bottled unfined and unfiltered:
February 9, 2022
Alcohol:
14.9%
Release Date:
April 1, 2022

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

Intense aromas of orange blossom, nectarine, peach, and rose petals showcase the marriage of remarkable old-vine Chardonnay with an exceptionally unique terroir in the 2020 ‘Belle Côte.’ The rich, beautifully creamy entry with mouthfeel is followed by a broad, powerful yet balanced mid-palate and an extraordinarily long finish. Hints of toasted almond and pain d’épices embrace an expressive core of marmalade, custard, and nougat. A wonderfully balanced wine, the 2020 ‘Belle Côte’ is approachable in its youth but will continue to blossom for more than a decade.

‘Le Chapeau Blanc’ Estate Cabernet Franc

Oakville, Napa Valley

Estate: Oakville
Single Vineyard:
Le Chapeau Blanc (“The White Hat,” referring to Sir Peter’s signature Panama hat)
Planted:
1993
Acres:
2
Soil:
20–40% rock with red Boomer loam of volcanic origin, 40% clay, 30% silt, and 30% sand
Variety:
Cabernet Franc, Merlot
Exposure:
South-southwest
Elevation:
500–600 feet

Winegrowing Notes

Located in the heart of the Oakville AVA’s famed red dirt in Napa Valley, the Le Chapeau Blanc block has a rich history as a source of many acclaimed wines. Planted in the foothills on the east side of the valley, on a raised bench of a gently sloping plateau, Cabernet Franc develops into a classic style with silky tannins against dark fruits and savory highlights. The site receives ideal sun exposure during the day, facilitating the development of the lush, intense fruit one would expect from such a magnificent property.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-harvested: October 12, 2018
Blend:
90% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot
Aging:
Twenty-one months in 100% French oak barrels from select artisan coopers
Bottled unfined and unfiltered: February 10, 2021
Alcohol:
15.0%
Release Date:
April 1, 2022

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

From the standout 2018 vintage, ‘Le Chapeau Blanc’ offers rich aromas of black cherry, cassis, and dark cacao with nuances of spice, including cinnamon and cardamom. The wine delivers a silky and lively entry, with polished structure across the mid-palate and exceptional balance. Elements of violets, vanilla, and sweet dried cherries marry with a hint of black tea, carrying through to an elegant and long, well-rounded finish.