Pence Vineyards: Crafting Wines with Passion

Pence Vineyard and Winery is part of a 200 acre working ranch within the Sta. Rita Hills located along route 246.  It is owned by Blair Pence, a successful Los Angeles realtor, who purchased the property some 20 years ago and has converted part of the ranch to vineyards for producing premium estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Thus far, some 50 acres have been developed with more under development.

Blair Pence

On this, our second visit to the winery, owner Blair Pence and winemaker, John Faulkner, gave us a tour of the estate and conducted our tasting.  The estate vineyard is divided into small parcels (1-4 acres) of different elevations and soil profiles and clonal material, both Dijon and Heritage.

During our vineyard tour we encountered a cold and persistent wind that along with the brilliant sun defines the terroir and  contributes to the health of the grapes and the appealing purity and acidity of the wines.  Under these conditions natural winemaking is possible, and Pence takes pride in a non-interventionist approach to the winemaking.   The talented Sashi Moorman continues his association with the project.

Pence makes relatively few wines, but what they do make they do extremely well and with considerable passion in both the vineyard and the winery.

The Wines

Pence 2019 Estate Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills ($50) 91   Medium ruby. The Estate Pinot Noir displays aromas of ripe cherries with hints of earth   It is a delicious mouth filling and somewhat spicy wine with a silky texture and a hint of light toast.  Fermented with native yeast and 20% whole clusters in 4-ton concrete vats and aged 14 months in 25% neutral 228L French oak barrels.  A lovely wine with a long and pleasant finish.

Pence 2019 Fugio  Sta Rita Hills ($68) 91     Sourced from a single parcel of Pommard and  fermented 100% whole cluster with moderate punching down in 4-ton concrete fermenters and elevage in 20% new French oak.  A unique wine, dark fruited with a wild earthy aroma. It is a little Beaujolais-like in character with firm tannins and an agreeable finish.  Should have great aging potential.

Pence 2019 Syrah Sebastiano Vineyard ($62) 92   The Pence 2019 Syrah offers pure black fruit flavors with hints of black pepper.  Sourced from the low-yielding Sebastiano Vineyard, it has excellent flavor concentration, a silky smooth elegant mouth feel, and firm ripe tannins.  The wine is approachable now but will definitely improve with again.

Pence 2017 Estate Chardonnay Sta Rita Hills ($48) 92 The Estate Chardonnay displays a yellow gold color and offers aromas of stone fruit and lemon with hints of honey, toasted grain and minerals. On the palate it reveals excellent acidity and freshness with concentrated fruit and stone-like flavors. Fermented with native yeast and aged with 25% new oak, it is nicely balanced and has a persistent finish.

Pence 2017 Chardonnay Rosa Estate Sta Rita Hills ($64) 93 The Rosa Estate Chardonnay is more refined and complex than the Estate Chardonnay. It is aromatic with a silky mouth feel and layers of rich and concentrated white fruit flavors with notes of toasted oak. Fermented with native yeast in 40% new French oak at warm temperatures. and aged 16 months in new French oak.  It displays a sense of place. Sourced from a 2.2 acre block of Mount Eden Selection, it reveals a unique combination of flavor and elegance.

 

 

 

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