Led by Mark Aubert, one of California's most talented, enthusiastic, and energetic young wine-making teams is pushing Peter Michael into the stratosphere. This is one of the most exciting wineries in the world! It is not often you find a winery making exceptional Sauvignon, multiple cuvees of profoundly rich Chardonnays, and a Bordeaux-styled, classy, complex red wine. No one is missing a step at this winery located in the beautiful Knight's Valley, on the road between Calistoga and Santa Rosa.

I find L'Apres Midi to be one of the most flavorful, complex Sauvignon Blancs in California. The 1994 is a worthy successor to the high notes struck by previous vintages. This barrel-fermented, unfiltered Sauvignon exhibits a gorgeously intense, floral, honeyed, melony nose, followed by crisp, extracted flavors presented in a medium-bodied format. The subtle influence of new oak (10% new Taransaud barrels are utilized) and good underlying acidity provide the necessary delineation to this wine's generous component parts. It is a delicious, honeyed style of dry Sauvignon for drinking over the next 1-2 years.

Peter Michael's 1994 Chardonnays have achieved such a high level of quality that they rival past vintages of the winery's luxury cuvee, Point Rouge. There are nearly 2,400 cases of the 1994 Chardonnay Clos du Ciel, much of which came from fruit grown in the Liparita Vineyard on Howell Mountain. The wine is fermented with wild yeast in French oak casks and bottled unfiltered. The 1994 is a gorgeously made Chardonnay that could easily compete with any Batard- Montrachet from Burgundy. It offers a rich, complex nose of honeyed oranges and other citrus fruits, toast, and floral scents. There is full body, great purity and ripeness, and a long, intense finish with enough acidity for balance. The 1994 Chardonnay Monplaisir (virtually all of its fruit comes from the same Upper Barn vineyard used by Marcassin), is an unfiltered, full-bodied, splendidly endowed Chardonnay that must give Burgundy producers nightmares. The wine displays a full-bodied feel in the mouth, that complexity that can only come from wild yeasts, and gobs of fruit, glycerin, and alcohol in the long, lush finish. It is a terrific Chardonnay for drinking over the next 2-3 years. The 1994 Chardonnay Cuvee Indigene is a mindblowing Chardonnay. It tastes like a hypothetical blend of Coche-Dury's Corton-Charlemagne, Louis Latour's Chevalier-Montrachet, and Michel Niellon's Batard-Montrachet. An amazingly concentrated and fabulously pure Chardonnay, with extract levels that must be tasted to be believed, this profound wine is extremely intense, well-balanced, with adequate acidity, and a lusty, spicy finish. The quality of fruit is so remarkable that the high percentage of aging in new oak casks is largely obscured by the wine's fruit. Drink this nectar over the next 3-5 years, Interestingly, the 1994 Chardonnay Point Rouge, a luxury cuvee that represents the winery's finest barrels (only 100-125 cases), is more closed than the Cuvee Indigene, revealing a smoky, grilled, hazelnut, buttery fragrance, full body, remarkable concentration, admirable delineation, and a smashingly Iong, unctuously-textured finish. These are stunning Chardonnays that will be gobbled up when they hit the marketplace in 1996.

Les Pavots Proprietary Red Wine is usually a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, and 14% Merlot. It is aged in French oak barrels, of which 50% are new each year. In 1993, a selection of the finest barrels was made for Peter Michaels' new wine, the Point Blanc Proprietary Red, It is a blend of 47% Cabernet Franc, 47% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 100% new oak for several months longer than Les Pavots. All of these wines exhibit an undeniable Bordeaux-like character. They stand out in a tasting of California Cabernets because of their subtle, Medoc-like style. That being said, readers should not expect these wines to be light-bodied or wimpish. They are authoritatively flavored, fruit-filled, powerful wines that are often more tannic and closed after bottling than fruitier-styled Cabernets. The 1994 Les Pavots exhibits a healthy, ruby/purple color, ripe cassis fruit in the nose intermingled with scents of herbs, red currants, and spice, a beautiful texture, medium body, and noticeable tannin in the finish. This wine tastes more like a Medoc from an exceptional Bordeaux vintage than a California Cabernet. The dark ruby-colored 1993 Les Pavots offers a herbaceous but ripe-scented nose, excellent concentration, elegant, finely tuned flavors, and a very good finish. It is less exuberant and more restrained than when I last tasted it.

There are 75 cases of the provocative 1993 Point Blanc. It displays a saturated color, more toasty new oak in its aromas and flavors, and more concentration, body, and extract on the palate. Revealing a striking similarity to a top Bordeaux made in a ripe style, it is a beautifully knit, graceful, complex, herb, mineral, cassis, and cigar-box- scented and flavored wine. It will be released next year and should age well for 15+years. The 1994 Point Blanc possesses sweeter fruit, the extraordinary fruit purity and delineation that is characteristic of the vintage, a licorice, cassis, herb, and mineral-scented nose, medium to full body, adequate acidity, and a long, tannic finish. It will be more than the 1993 when released and should age well for 15-20+ years.
- Robert Parker / The Wine Advocate

Peter Michael Winery / 12400 Ida Canyon Road / Calistoga, CA / 707-942-4459

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