The 2022 vintage was especially challenging, even for the most talented winemakers like Adam Lee. It was the last year of the drought, so soils were especially dry and the vines stressed. In addition, from August 31 through September 9, a massive heat dome parked over California producing a record-breaking heat wave. This was followed by mid-September rains. These events combined with a spring frost earlier in the season produced smaller berries and significantly lower yields in general. We’ve reviewed Adam’s wines over the years and Morét’s wines more recently. All our articles can be accessed on the iwinereview.com blog.
Morét Brealynn picked her Russian River Valley Pinot Noir prior to the Labor Day heat spike, so she avoided the heat spike, but the Clarice Pinots from the Santa Lucia Highlands weren’t picked until mid-September. Adam’s strategy to deal with the heat spike was to flood the vines with water prior to the arrival of the heat, which helped keep sugars in check and extend hangtimes. However, acid levels suffered, requiring the addition of some acidity. Also, to help give structure, Adam used a high percentage of whole clusters to contribute tannin and bled off almost 20% of the juice. The result is, according to Adam, the most concentrated Pinot Noirs every produced for Clarice, relatively low alcohol levels due to the irrigation, and very small yields. It was, in all respects, a weird vintage, but the wines ended up amazingly good.
Clarice 2022 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands ($98) 92 Medium dark red, showing a plum and dark cherry nose. Dense dark fruit shows on the palate along with firm tannins. A beautifully concentrated and savory Pinot. A blend of 60% Rosella’s Vineyard and 40% Garys’ Vineyard with 83% whole clusters. pH 3.50, 13% alc.
Clarice 2022 Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($98) 94 Medium dark red. Aromas of spicy, earthy dark cherry. Dense flavors of dark fruit with a meaty note on a smoothly textured palate. Firm round tannins and a medium long finish. 83% whole clusters used for this wine. A selection of the 5 best barrels; all new French oak. pH 3.53, 13% alc.
Clarice 2022 Pinot Noir Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($98) 95 Medium dark red. The Rosella’s Pinot displays a pretty nose with hints of baking spice and dark cherry skin. Pretty and refined with beautiful purity of red fruit, excellent balance, and seductive, silky mouth feel. Finishes long with firm tannins. 85% whole clusters used for this wine; matured in 50% new French oak. pH 3.57, 13.7% alc.
Morét-Brealynn 2022 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley ($50) 92 Medium carmen red. This vineyard blend (from parcels managed by super viticulturist Jim Pratt) is a delicious, straightforward Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Plum, dark cherry and hints of earth show on the nose, followed by a fruity attack and a suave palate that mirrors the bouquet. Delicious, easy drinking with vibrant cherry-like fruit. Sourced from the Lakeview and Sexton vineyards managed by Jim Pratt and picked prior to the Labor Day heat spike; especially low yields in 2022. 14.4% alc.
Morét-Brealynn 2022 Pinot Noir Lakeview Vineyard Russian River Valley ($72) 93 Medium dark red. The single vineyard Lakeview Pinot is more savory and structured than the blend. There’s good depth of darker fruit on a well-balanced palate with nice firmness and medium-dry tannins. Well done! This vineyard had very low yields in 2022. Made with native yeast, spontaneous malo, and no fining or filtration. It’s a selection of the best barrels. 14.4% alc.
Morét-Brealynn 2022 Rose of Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands ($28) 92 Made from Pinot Noir grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands and fermented and aged in neutral French oak, this is one of the very best rosés we tasted this year. Lovely fresh red cherry scents and a crisp, dry palate with a lovely, full mouth feel and persistent finish.
Morét-Brealynn 2022 Stray Cats Muscadelle Sonoma Valley ($28) 92 Effusive floral and stone fruit nose. The flavors follow suit with lovely, lush yellow peach and kumquat on a perfumed palate. Excellent freshness and balance, finishing long and pure. A uniquely interesting wine. Sourced from 120-year-old vines in Sonoma Valley and fermented and aged in stainless steel with no malo. 13% alc.