93pts | Patrick J. Comiskey, Wine & Spirits
“With a formidable build, this seems made for aging, but it’s already compelling, with scents of beef consommé, black tea and clove over flavors of plum and cherry, and sumptuous oak molding the contours of the fruit. Cellar.”
93pts | Erin Brooks, Wine Advocate
“The 2017 Pinot Noir La Bête has a medium ruby-purple color and scents of marionberry, blackberry and spiced cranberries with dried violets, mossy bark, loamy earth and sweet spices. The medium-bodied palate is silky but powerful, offering loads of lush, ripe fruits and finishing long and dense but with good freshness. Larry Stone calls this a "bruiser," and with all that fruit and firm structure, this should be an excellent candidate for cellar aging.”
Only 175 cases produced!
This distinctive combination of vineyard and unique Pinot Noir selection has resulted in a powerful, rich and nuanced wine that has complex aromas of red rose petal and violets, raspberry, pomegranate and black cherry, black tea and rosemary. All these flavors play on the tongue and offer a hint of mulberry as well. The finish is long, with a texture that is at times silky and at others velvety. This will be a wine to enjoy now with a variety of dishes, but also to guard in your cellar for future enjoyment.
La Bête marks the debut of our Calera Clone Block 6 Pinot Noir in a solo performance. It is a controversial selection of Pinot Noir to be sure, as it may be at once the most Burgundian and also the least Burgundian of all the selections made in the New World. Naturally it produces very low yields and is prone to millerandage or shatter in spring. It has such tiny and infertile berries that the wine tends to look more like Syrah than Pinot noir to those more familiar with Volnay than with Chambertin. The origins of the Calera clone in the US are murky and it has been said to come from one or more Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy and others say it originated from a cutting found already in California – quite different origin stories to be sure. In any case, it is a highly original and powerful expression of the Pinot spectrum, and I believe it will come to be known as one of our finest wines. Unfortunately, because the yields from this clone are so low there isn’t very much of it.
The deep color saturation of the wine comes from the very tiny berries of the Calera Pinot Noir, now also known as FPS Clone 90. Due to the very low yields, relatively large proportion of stem to fruit, and the small size of the berries, perfectly ripened Pinot Noir was sorted on a vibrating table and then entirely destemmed before being fed bin by bin, not pumped, into small-format stainless steel fermenting tanks. Cap management began with gentle pump overs, followed by traditional pigeage by foot as needed. After fermentation, the wine aged in a combination of 25% new and 75% neutral French oak barriques for approximately 17 months. After final blending, the wine was aged an additional 2 months in stainless steel tank prior to bottling.
Food Pairing Notes
If consuming this wine young, enjoy with Grilled NY Strip Steaks, Peking Duck, Sautéed Duck Breast with crispy skin, Leg of Lamb Provençale, Porcini Risotto, Sautéed Lamb Loin Coated in Toasted Hazelnut Flour, Quail, Whole Duck (or Pheasant) Stuffed with Chestnuts and Wild Rice. Also, a simple Pasta dish with a creamy Porcini or Morel sauce, or if possible, with White Alba Truffles.