Our family and the whole team at Peter Michael are delighted to introduce the fall release wines, spanning all three estates across three vintages. Each autumn as the harvest approaches, the vineyard and winemaking teams tirelessly traverse the vineyard by foot, using all their skills to ensure that every row, vine, and cluster are developing as uniformly as possible to peak standards of ripeness and balance. And as always, we anxiously await to see if Mother Nature will collaborate in delivering another distinctly special vintage. 


Harvest Notes

Oakville Estate, Napa Valley

Cabernet Sauvignon, 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 by April, when budbreak occurred the first week. During the bloom, the vines flowered uniformly during the second week of June for our Cabernet Sauvignon. Fortunately, there was only one heat wave, lasting a mere couple of days at the end of June, during the end of the bloom. The growing season happened under excellent weather conditions: very dry with mild temperatures between 80º and 90ºF. For the county of Napa Valley, this is a trouble-free vintage characterized by mild weather with a long, unseasonably warm autumn.

Veraison occurred during the first and second weeks of August. Harvest dates were from October 12 to 17, with a daily picking schedule. It was a very intense harvest because the dry weather made the de-leafing required in the vineyard especially extensive. On the other hand, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes benefited from warm days and cool nights. The yields of 2 tons per acre were low except for the new plantation, blocks 10 and 11. We faced some difficult decisions to pick fully ripe without excessive sugar content (which is rare) in each block. The acidity level was low, with almost no malic acid left at the harvest date. This vintage has both high quantity and high quality of tannins. It is a strong and safe vintage for collectors and connoisseurs.

Au Paradis

Cabernet Blend

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L’Esprit des Pavots

Cabernet Blend

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Knights Valley Estate, Sonoma County

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot

Spring was mild and the growing conditions during the entire season were ideal, even with some heat waves in October. The bloom occurred under adequate temperature and humidity. The temperatures remained steady and warm throughout the year, without any significant heat spikes. The yields of our mountain vineyards were slightly higher than the previous vintage but remained small (3 tons per acre). After the end of veraison, a single pass of thinning facilitated the homogenization of the crop. Most of the vineyard blocks were physiologically ripe at the same time with a desirable amount of polyphenols.

L’Esprit des Pavots

Cabernet Blend

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Knights Valley Estate, Sonoma County

Chardonnay

While the winter of 2019 was wet, with generous amounts of rainfall, the rocky, volcanic soil and subsoils of our estates were able to drain efficiently, releasing the excessive moisture content. From the physiological steps of budbreak to veraison, the temperatures were variable with some lows and highs.

The subsequent long and quite mild summer was ideal for preserving freshness and finesse. The yields were average, but picking decisions and proper sorting made the critical difference in achieving wines of balance, ripeness, generosity, and elegance.

Ma Belle-Fille

Chardonnay

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Mon Plaisir

Chardonnay

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Point Rouge

Chardonnay

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Seaview Estate, Fort Ross–Seaview, Sonoma County

Pinot Noir

The 2019 growing season began with abundant rainfalls during February. The climate remained cool through spring, allowing the vines to produce a proper canopy but without an excess of vigor. Bloom was delayed by two weeks and as a result, the veraison was able to develop evenly and the harvest occurred late. During the summer, we managed the canopy with two simple edging passes. In addition, we omitted the de-leafing of the canopy to aid in preserving the natural acidity of this special vintage that nature presented to us.

Pinot Noir is among the most fastidious varietals; therefore, very special care is devoted in the vineyard and the cellars to this noble Pinot Fins selection. The fruit across the three vineyards—Clos du Ciel, Le Caprice, and Ma Danseuse—was harvested crunchy and fully ripe, a rare goal to achieve. Without a doubt, 2019 is a stunning, classic vintage.

Clos du Ciel

Pinot Noir

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Ma Danseuse

Pinot Noir

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Knights Valley Estate, Sonoma County

Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon

For the Knights Valley, 2020 was an overall cooler, even growing season punctuated with a series of heat spikes in August and over Labor Day in September, which helped ripen the fruit beautifully. The year also 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.

Nonetheless, the Sauvignon Blanc fruit set at the estate was excellent, resulting in fuller clusters than average. Harvest for the Sauvignon Blanc spanned from September 2 to 21. The later-ripening Sémillon was harvested on September 30 and October 10.

L’Après-Midi

Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon

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Tasting Notes

‘Au Paradis’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Oakville, Napa Valley

Estate: Oakville
Single Vineyard:
Au Paradis (“In Heaven”)
Planted:
1984 and 2007
Soil:
40 percent rocky red Boomer loam of volcanic origin; 40 percent clay; 10 percent silt; and 10 percent sand
Varieties:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
Exposure:
South and southwest
Elevation:
500 to 600 feet (150 to 180 meters)

Winegrowing Notes

Located in the heart of the Oakville AVA’s famed red dirt in Napa Valley, ‘Au Paradis’ is exactly where its name translates, “In Heaven.” Planted in the foothills on the east side of the valley on a raised, gently sloping plateau, the Bordeaux varietals develop into a classic style with silky tannins and deep red fruit. Between 500 and 600 feet, 26 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot look down on the valley and across to the Mayacamas Mountains. The slope and hillside location provide ideal sun exposure during the day and help develop the lush, intense fruit one would expect from such a magnificent property.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-harvested: October 8 to October 17
Blend:
76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc
Aging:
18 months in 100% French oak barrels from select artisan coopers
Bottled unfiltered:
May 14, 2020
Alcohol:
14.8%
Release Date:
September 1, 2021

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

The 2018 ‘Au Paradis’ appears near-black to ruby in color with perfumed aromas of red rose and distinct black currant and cassis. Equally, the flavor delivers dark fruit reminiscent of plum and crème de cassis aside bright and savory notes of raspberry, rose petal, and graphite. Well-rounded on the palate, showing refinement with complexity and the hallmark aromas and flavors characteristic of the acclaimed iron-rich, red dirt soils of Oakville. Approachable now, the wine will reward five years of cellaring and will continue to age gracefully for two decades or more.

‘Clos du Ciel’ Estate Pinot Noir

Fort Ross-Seaview, Western Sonoma County

Estate: Seaview
Single Vineyard:
Clos du Ciel (“Wall-Enclosed Vineyard of the Sky”)
Planted:
2006–2007
Soil:
Rocky alluvial sediments, decomposing volcanic materials
Variety:
100% Pinot Noir
Exposure:
East-northeast
Elevation:
1,000 to 1,500 feet (300 to 460 meters)

Winegrowing Notes

The name Clos du Ciel is a metaphor for the rare microclimate of this vineyard site. Situated nearly 1 mile from the Pacific Ocean among the trees on a ridge approaching an elevation of 1,400 feet, this mountain vineyard receives the coastal influence along with ideal strong, sunny days. The soils of the vineyard are a composite of clay, silt, and volcanic gravels, which lend to polished tannins, body, and hints of mineral graphite. ‘Clos du Ciel’ traditionally presents the most full-bodied structure of our three Seaview Estate Pinot Noirs.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-harvested: September 25 to September 28
Vinification:
100% naturally fermented using native yeast
Aging:
16 months in 50% new French oak barrels from select artisan coopers
Bottled unfined and unfiltered:
February 8, 2021
Alcohol: 15.4%
Release Date:
September 1, 2021

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

Displaying a saturated, red ruby color with pink and inky hues, the wine offers aromas of red rose petals, lively blackberry, strawberry jam, and cherry kirsch. Savory clove, cinnamon, sandalwood, and hints of earthy redwood character blend well with an element of toasty, slightly smoky new oak. Generous and full-bodied with abundant tannins, ‘Clos du Ciel’ demonstrates balance with a seamless texture and an astonishing finish offering precision, delineation, and power.

‘Point Rouge’ Estate Chardonnay

Knights Valley, Sonoma County

Estate: Knights Valley
Vineyards:
Belle Côte, Ma Belle-Fille
Planted:
1990
Soil:
Volcanic-origin rhyolite
Variety:
100% Chardonnay
Exposure:
South-southeast
Elevation: 
1,700 to 1,750 feet (520 to 530 meters)

Winegrowing Notes

The name Point Rouge (“red dot”) references the red sticker our winemaker places on the top Chardonnay barrels from the vintage. These barrels are singled out for their exceptional quality and potential for long-term aging in the bottle. For the 2019 vintage, eleven barrels from Belle Côte and Ma Belle-Fille vineyards were selected and blended in December 2020, creating the final cuvée.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-harvested: October 1 to October 9
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 unfiltered: February 1, 2021
Alcohol:
14.2%
Release Date:
September 1, 2021

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

Light gold in color, the 2019 ‘Point Rouge’ exhibits a fabulous intensity and ripeness with expansive flavors, and a perfume of extraordinary spring florals and honeysuckle notes intermingled with orange marmalade, lemon oil, tangerine, and a touch of tropical passion fruit. Subtle toasty oak with hazelnut and jasmine flesh out this rich, concentrated Chardonnay with seamless texture sans couture. Full-bodied, silky, delineated, oily, and layered, ‘Point Rouge’ delivers waves of white fruits, stones, and spices along with a liquid minerality—a prominent characteristic of grand cru status. 2019 is a refined vintage, worthy of aging.

‘Ma Belle-Fille’ Estate Chardonnay

Knights Valley, Sonoma County

Estate: Knights Valley
Single Vineyard:
Ma Belle-Fille (“Beautiful Daughter-in-Law,” in honor of Emily Michael)
Planted:
1999
Soil:
Volcanic-origin rhyolite
Variety:
100% Chardonnay
Exposure:
South-southeast
Elevation:
1,700 to 1,900 feet (520 to 580 meters)

Winegrowing Notes

At the highest elevation on the estate, the marine influence on Ma Belle-Fille is greater, resulting
in cooler daily temperatures in the summer and autumn months. Situated far above the summer fog ceiling and exposed to the southeast, the vineyard receives the very first rays of sunshine each morning and remains sunny all day long. This full exposure, combined with cooler temperatures, causes the fruit to mature earlier than the rest of our estate.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-Harvested: September 17 to October 14
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 unfiltered:
February 3, 2021
Alcohol:
14.3%
Release Date:
September 1, 2021

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

A bright, light straw color, ‘Ma Belle-Fille’ bursts from the glass with vine blossom, pure liquid minerals, nectarines, white flowers, creamed hazelnut, pastry elements, and Reinette apple. On the palate, noticeable layer upon layer of stone, minerals, grilled bread, and jasmine are accentuated with an oily, full-bodied concentration. The finish is complex and expansive with a purity of lingering lemon curd, vanilla bean, yellow flowers, and nougat with hints of cinnamon and pain d’épices. A classic example of ‘Ma Belle-Fille,’ perfectly balanced and structured to age gracefully.

‘Mon Plaisir’ Estate Chardonnay

Knights Valley, Sonoma County

Estate: Knights Valley Winery
Single Vineyard:
Mon Plaisir (“My Pleasure”)
Planted: 1990
Soil:
Volcanic-origin rhyolite
Variety:
100% Chardonnay
Exposure:
Southeast
Elevation:
1,650 to 1,700 feet (500 to 520 meters)

Winegrowing Notes

‘Mon Plaisir’ is chosen from a specific parcel of our mountainside estate vineyards in Knights Valley planted entirely to the Old Wente clone. The vineyard is a perfect combination of full sun exposure and abundant cooling marine influences. This produces low yields and enhances the extracted perfume that makes ‘Mon Plaisir’ a pure classic style. Long, natural alcoholic and malolactic fermentations further develop this intense and complex bouquet while adding ample gras and a round mouthfeel.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-harvested: October 7 to October 15
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 unfiltered:
February 5, 2021
Alcohol:
14.3%
Release Date:
April 1, 2021

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

Light-medium straw in color, 2019 ‘Mon Plaisir’ offers wonderful lemon, lime, butter, pain d’épices, honeyed apple skins, vanilla, and jasmine with subtle fresh oak. The aromas of fresh-baked bread lead to brioche, jasmine, and tangerine. While on the palate, lemon cream, Asian pear, and spice cake develop. Full-bodied and laced with minerals, ‘Mon Plaisir’ exhibits smoky pears and buttered toast followed by creamy hazelnut and balanced acidity. A long and desirable finish shows brioche, fresh butter, jasmine, mandarin orange peel, vanilla, fresh pastry, lemon custard, and a nuance of crème fraîche.

‘L’Esprit des Pavots’ Estate Cabernet Blend

51% Sonoma County & 49% Napa Valley

Estates: Knights Valley and Oakville
Vineyards: Les Pavots, Au Paradis
Planted:
1990
Soils:
Volcanic-origin rhyolite
Exposures:
South-southeast
Elevation:
1,700 to 1,750 feet (520 to 530 meters)

Winegrowing Notes

‘L’Esprit des Pavots’ is French for “The Spirit of the Poppies.” First produced in the 2001 vintage, the wine was sourced solely from our Les Pavots vineyard and affectionately referred to as the “little brother” of our flagship wine. With the 2016 vintage select, lots from our Oakville Estate (Au Paradis Vineyard) were introduced to the blend. The wine is typically more fruit-forward and early-drinking than ‘Les Pavots’ or ‘Au Paradis,’ but remains a true expression of the Peter Michael style—balanced, elegant, and age-worthy.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-harvested: October 18 to October 26
Blend:
53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot
Aging:
Eighteen months in 100% French oak barrels from select artisan coopers
Bottled unfiltered:
May 15, 2020
Alcohol:
15.5%
Release Date:
April 1, 2021

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

The 2018 ‘L’Esprit des Pavots’ presents a nearly black color with highlights of crimson ruby. An elegant, floral nose is heightened with accents of dark cherry, caramel, truffle, blackberry, cassis, and toffee. Generous essences of blueberry, blackberry, the black cherry are hallmarks of the Les Pavots terroir, along with plum and hints of mocha and vanilla bean. The Au Paradis terroir brings notes of currant and crème de cassis with meaty nuances. The palate is full-bodied and concentrated, exhibiting savory leather, tobacco, and white pepper with chestnut, black truffle, cedar, and supple tannins with a lingering finish.

‘L’Après-Midi’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc

Knights Valley, Sonoma County

Estate: Knights Valley
Vineyard:
L’Après-Midi (“The Afternoon”)
Planted:
1995
Soil:
Volcanic-origin rhyolite
Varieties:
Sauvignon Blanc (Preston 70%, Musqué 30%), Sémillon
Exposure:
South-southeast
Elevation:
1,000 to 1,400 feet (300 to 425 meters)

Winegrowing Notes

The fruit for ‘L’Après-Midi’ is grown alongside our red varietals in the Les Pavots vineyard. The grapes were picked and sorted by hand, the whole cluster pressed and then naturally fermented in a barrel. No malolactic fermentation was conducted to preserve the fruity and zesty character of the Sauvignon Blanc. All lots were aged separately on their lies for nine months with gentle bâtonnage, then judiciously blended to compose the final cuvée.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-harvested: September 2 to September 30
Blend:
97% Sauvignon Blanc, 3% Sémillon
Vinification:
100% naturally fermented using native yeasts, 100% barrel-fermented in French oak from select artisan coopers
Aging:
Barrel-aged sur lies for eight months with gentle biweekly bâtonnage
Bottled unfined:
May 11, 2021
Alcohol: 1
4.6%
Release Date:
September 1, 2021

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

The 2020 ‘L’Après-Midi’ is visually compelling with a translucent, silver color accented by a bright, pale golden hue. The bouquet is reminiscent of neroli, expressing vine and orange blossom along with a vibrant oystershell and granitic minerality heightened by fresh lime, lemon fruit, and gooseberry, with a hint of pine needle and verbena. The flavors are introduced with a touch of freshness and glycerol, carrying elegant white spring flowers—jasmine and white vine rose with a resounding array of fruit, Vosges lemon candy, gooseberry, grapefruit to mandarin, and guava. The finish is balanced, precise, mineral-driven, and elegant, revealing white currant, apricot, acacia honey, and quince paste. The 2020 ‘L’Après-Midi’ will benefit from several years of cellaring to develop further complexity and express the originality of the vintage.

‘Ma Danseuse’ Estate Pinot Noir

Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma County

Estate: Seaview
Single Vineyard:
Ma Danseuse (“My Dancer,” an ode by Sir Peter in honor of Lady Maggie Michael)
Planted:
2006–2007
Soil: Rocky alluvial sediments, decomposing volcanic materials
Variety:
100% Pinot Noir
Exposure:
East-northeast
Elevation:
1,000 to 1,500 feet (300 to 400 meters)

Winegrowing Notes

Ma Danseuse, situated between 1,000 and 1,500 feet above sea level on steep mountain slopes, faces east and northeast. It benefits from both the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean over the ridges to the west and the mild sunny mountain climate. The soil of the vineyard is a composite of clay, silt, and volcanic gravels, which gives polished tannins, body, and a hint of graphite-mineral. Ma Danseuse is the most feminine of our trio of Pinot Noir vineyards.

Winemaking Notes

Hand-harvested: September 28 to October 8
Vinification:
100% naturally fermented using native yeast
Aging:
Sixteen months in 50% new French oak barrels from select artisan coopers
Bottled unfined and unfiltered:
February 9, 2020
Alcohol:
14.4%
Release Date:
September 1, 2021

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

Dark ruby-colored, ‘Ma Danseuse’ exudes an extraordinary perfume of Asian spices, clove and dried herbs along with fresh raspberry and blackberry. Full-bodied with savory layers of flavor reminiscent of leather, earth, graphite and sandalwood, enlivened by notes of violets, rose petal, and strawberry coulis. A silky entry evolves into an explosive midpalate that is seamless throughout with great length, providing a long finish.