A Vertical tasting of Peay pinot noir

In September of 2009 we decided to taste all the vintages of Peay Vineyards Pinot noir. We hope the notes are helpful. One caveat we believe is worth mentioning: Our recommendations are biased toward drinking wines that show bottle bouquet and are at the peak of what we see as the balance between aromas and structure. If you like wines that show maximum power and fruit-forwardness, by all means do not wait as many years to open these bottles. With time, even the most extracted wines diminish and lose their punch, but that initial fruit blast is often replaced or enhanced by subtler aromas that some people like. But there is not a singular right time to drink a wine, just the right time for you.

2002 Peay Vineyards Estate Pinot noir


Our first Pinot made from 5th leaf vines. The nose still maintains some of the red fruit apparent in its youth. The tannins have softened and cradle this now-elegant wine. Dried pine needle and forest floor qualities have come to the forefront with some saddle leather and brass peeking out. You could hold this for a few more years but we recommend you drink it now.

2003 Peay Vineyards Estate Pinot noir

Hold to

The 2003 vintage was warm and challenging. This is one of the riper Pinots we have made, with more prune and dark fruit aromas than typical for Peay Pinot noir. With a little time in a decanter the oak aromas subside and a spearmint, candle wax and raspberry mid-palate emerge. As often happens as wine ages, this one is in a temporary dumb or backward phase where the fruit aromas have started to disappear and bottle bouquet is just beginning to come on. Hold for 1-2 years to see how it evolves.

2004 Peay Vineyards Estate Pinot noir

Hold to 2013

The 2004 will be one of the library wines poured at wine dinners across the country this year and it is developing quite nicely. There is real depth on the nose with very attractive red and black fruits with a touch of licorice root hidden underneath. The mouth is bright with plum, raspberry and mushroom notes and as a whole displays intense muscular depth. Excellent right now but in the next 2-4 years the tannins will continue to soften, while the excellent acidity will preserve the wine as further bottle bouquet develops.

2005 Peay Vineyards Pomarium Estate Pinot noir

Hold to 2012

As on release, the nose is bright and floral with strawberry and white pepper notes leaping out of the glass. The mouth adds tobacco and tea notes along with the typical forest floor qualities found in all of our pinots. Since its release the 2005 Pomarium has gained heft and roundness in the mid-palate evolving into a wine with more profundity than on release. The 8-year-old vines are beginning to shrug off their baby fat and provide more palate presence. This will be a very interesting wine to watch as the nose diminishes in intensity and the bouquet develops in the mouth.

2005 Peay Vineyards Scallop Shelf Estate Pinot noir

Hold to 2013

The 2005 Scallop Shelf has become a staple at Peay wine dinners as it clearly makes a statement about the style of Pinot noir we wish to make. It remains bright with fresh raspberry, tamarind and orange peel aromas supported by sandalwood and copper notes. It is more floral than on release and not as lifted in the nose as the 2005 Pomarium. The mouth confirms the nose with a touch of soft tannins that still need a few more years to fully resolve. The wine is superbly balanced with refreshing acidity and an elegance that causes pause. Drink a bottle now and hold the rest to see how it evolves.

2006 Peay Vineyards Pomarium Estate Pinot noir

Hold to 2010-2015

The Pomarium is intentionally the more aromatic of our two cuvées. This is true of the 2006, though there are also some earthy, darker fruit and violet notes that make it a little more serious and complex than the pretty 2005. Though still youthful, the 2006 is drinking well now. The individual parts unfold as the wine crosses the palate; in an additional 3 years, these flavors should coalesce and become more uniform. We recommend you hold it for at least a year and then begin to enjoy according to your preference for bottle bouquet.

2006 Peay Vineyards Scallop Shelf Estate Pinot noir

Hold to 2012-2016

The 2006 Scallop Shelf has a very attractive nose of dried bing cherries, rose petals and pomegranate supported by a touch of spice. The mouth is compact and requires a 45 minute decant to fully open up and allow the fruit flavors to emerge. The mouth is beautiful, not heavy or extracted, and hints at what is to become of this classic and elegant wine in a few years. Please hold for a least 2-3 years or longer, as it has the acidity and soft tannins to last a decade or more.