Sea Sun

2020 Sea Sun Pinot Noir, California


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We freely admit it.  We’re Pinot Noir snobs.  We love the elegance and finesse of an ultra-cool climate Pinot from Alto Adige, Germany or Alsace and adore the terroir-driven wines of Burgundy.  We also love the bolder, ultra-expressive wines from the Willamette Valley, Sonoma County, Santa Barbara or New Zealand.  But being a Pinot snob also means, in our case, being poor!  The world’s best examples of Pinot Noir does not come cheaply!  I guess that’s why we’re messing with Sea Sun, proof that delicious, characterful Pinot Noir does not have to cost an arm and a leg.  Sea Sun is the latest effort of the Wagner family, an effort to recapture the chimeric magic of the once-dominant Meomi label that grew so fast and so big, it simply lost touch with what made it great to begin with and had to be sold off.  The Wagners are working on a much smaller, much more manageable scale again with Sea Sun.  Sure, it has some of that snazzy packaging that makes everything the Wagners do jump off the shelf, but there is quality here- a sense that the wine is as actually as good as the label.  The general concept is the same as Meomi was in the beginning.  The Wagners have excellent fruit sources up and down the Central Coast- from the rolling hills of Santa Barbara, north to the Arroyo Secco and San Luis Obispo. The real secret is smart quality farming and an eye in the cellar towards creating something that is far better than the sum of its parts.  We were impressed!  Yes, it’s true.  You will never confuse this Pinot Noir for a Vosne-Romanee in a blind tasting but, we believe, that’s not the point.  Is this good, honest Pinot Noir that celebrates the variety’s most distinctive attributes?  Absolutely!  Dark (but not Syrah dark), its ebullience and lifted aromatics are apparent from the start. Black cherry, plum confit, black tea and a bit of woodsy vanillans ride to the fore on a silky palate that hints of hoisin, anise-y spice and a bit of mocha.  Rich and textural on the palate but not at all blowzy, you can only shake your head and say ‘damn, this is some really good Pinot!’  For me, I’d play that hoisin-plum card and enjoy a bottle with some Peking duck but I think you’ll find it a pretty good pairing with just about anything or, just in a glass with no food in sight!  It’s wines like this that make it hard to be a Pinot snob!  Get a case for yourself and shipping is on us!