2011 Figge Cellars Pelio Pinot Noir

I have been writing a lot about making a nice dinner and opening a bottle of wine to go with the food, which is always a favorite activity of mine, but I like to have wine accompany a lot of my activities.  Tonight, I was playing guitar and realized how much I enjoy music and drinking so I decided that is what this post would be about aside from being about the bottle I’m drinking.  It’s no secret that music and alcohol pair quite well.  For me, playing guitar and sipping a drink is just about a perfect evening.  A swig of wine gets you from song to song and, by the end of the night, has me convinced that I am a great musician.

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Figge Cellars is based here in Monterey County and pulls grapes from all over the county.  They make a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir from the coveted grapes of the Santa Lucia Highlands but also produce another pair of the same varietals from a single vineyard which overlooks the Carmel Valley as well as a Syrah from the Arroyo Seco area further south in Monterey County.  This Pinot is from Carmel Valley’s Pelio vineyard and due to its location, produces some interesting fruit.  The vineyard is in a relatively warm area for Monterey County Pinot production, but it also is elevated out of the valley with an uninterrupted view of the ocean just six miles away.  So while the warmth provides a lot of complexity, depth, and body for the berries, the cooler winds coming off of the sea cool them off enough for the delicate Pinot flavors to not get “overcooked.”  It is one of the most full bodied Pinots that I’ve had from the area and I think it’s the sleeper pick of Monterey County.  Everyone here is in such a frenzy for the wines coming from the Santa Lucia Highlands that sometimes the rest of the county gets ignored.  It’s really a shame because this wine offers such ripe fruit flavors but still has enough body to stand up to a heavier meal of roasted chicken or pork.  It also seems to be standing up quite well to my guitar playing which is not easy to do.  Dark cherry seems to be the stage upon which this wine’s performance takes place, but this play has a host of characters. Pepper and caramelized sugar seem to be backstage…I think they may end up being the antagonists in Act V.   While I can certainly appreciate this wine now, I am extremely excited for what it is going to be.  This is a 2011 vintage and while it is still a bit tight, I don’t think it will take more than a year for this wine to really start to shine.  Possibly two to three years for it to really be incredible.

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Full disclosure:  I am a member at this winery and it’s clear that I am a big fan of their wines.  I knew I wanted to join a wine club of a local winery when I moved here but it took me a while to find one that fit me.  There were places that I loved but felt their wines were way overpriced.  Other places I liked one or two of their bottles but wasn’t a fan of their other 4 or 5 and didn’t want to pay for wine I wouldn’t enjoy.  I stumbled into Figge Cellars one day and absolutely loved all the wines they made.  I knew that this was the place.

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I moved to Monterey county in March of 2011.  That means I came into town right around the time the vines that produced this bottle were about to leaf out and produce the fruit that ultimately went into this bottle.  I usually am not one to wax poetic but as I sit here and strum out some songs on Rita (my guitar, named after Rita Hayworth) I can’t help but look back on the last few years and think about all the changes that have gone on in my life.  I came here as a fresh-faced, young man a little nervous about moving to a new town and taking on a new career.  Meanwhile, this wine has lived a life of its own during these last few years and while it has been hard on both of us, the end result is worth it.  Few things have remained constant in my life and to tell the truth, I like it that way.  But, of the few things that have, wine and music are among them.  We are constantly on sensory overload these days between our smart phones and computers and all forms of media creeping into our lives.  This is sensory overload in a completely different and intensely pleasurable way.  The sound of the music, the feel of the guitar strings, the smell and taste of the wine, it makes you just close your eyes and savor it.  Those of you that aren’t musicians, throw on pandora and curl up with a glass of wine and just relax.  Put away your laptop and set your phone down.  Get into the wine and the music.  It’s something I forget to make time for a lot in my life but when I do, I always lose track of time and end up being so relaxed.  So go online and order at bottle of Figge here, pour yourself a glass, and as Steppenwolf said, “Let the sound take you away.”

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