If Bob Pepi made it, we should all be drinking it
Bob Pepi started gaining recognition as the winemaker at Robert Pepi Wines, the winery that he and his dad founded. In the mid ‘90s the family sold that winery, and since that time Bob has been making wine all over the world both for his own labels and as a consultant for a Who’s Who of wineries. In Argentina he’s responsible for all the wines that Bodega Valentin Bianchi exports. In his native California, he works with names like Angel’s Secret, Andretti and numerous others. For his own label, Eponymous, he makes use of long-established relationships, connections and his vast knowledge of California to source grapes from some killer vineyards. I have tasted many selections, at a wide array of price points that Bob is responsible for; in short what he touch turns to delicious liquid gold. You simply can’t go wrong with wines that Bob Pepi makes. This time out I take a look at a trio of recent releases that he produced.
The Angel’s Secret 2010 Sauvignon Blanc was produced from fruit sourced at the Shannon Ridge Ranch in High Valley California. This area sits approximately 2,200 feet above sea level. This offering is 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc. The fruit was whole cluster pressed. It was fermented in stainless steel and saw no oak influence at all. Just over 2,500 cases of this wine were produced, and it has a suggested retail price of $15.99. Citrus and orchard fruit aromas, as well as wisps of grass burst forcefully from the nose of this Sauvignon Blanc. Granny Smith apple and pear flavors are in strong evidence throughout the palate. From the first sip throughout the finish, which is crisp and clean, this wine is fresh and constant in its flavors. High Valley California has emerged as an excellent source of California Sauvignon Blanc, rivaling other regions like Dry Creek Valley for quality and value. This selection from Angel’s Secret is a delectable wine and a fabulous value.
The Angel’s Secret 2010 Petite Sirah was produced exclusively from fruit sourced at Shannon Ridge Vineyards in High Valley California. The section of the vineyard these grapes were picked from is at a slope of 40 degrees. In addition to Petite Sirah (94 percent), a small amount of Merlot (6 percent) was also blended in. The fruit was harvested and sorted by hand. After cold soaking and a lengthy fermentation in a cold temperature-controlled environment, this wine was aged in barrels for 10 months; 25 percent of the barrels utilized were new French oak. About 5,300 cases of this Petite Sirah were produced, and it has a suggested retail price of $16.99. This wine leads with deep, dark and brooding aromas. Blueberry, plum and blackberry are all in evidence here. The palate has a cornucopia of black fruits flavors with plum, raspberry, cherry and blackberry characteristics all making their presence known, along with plum pudding spices and vanilla bean as well. This Petite Sirah gets a bit heftier on the back end with a lengthy finish and nice bite. It’s tasty from the moment you pour it, but some air really helps it open up. Well made Petite Sirahs can easily be paired with a host of foods, particularly full-flavored dishes. This is really nice example of Petite Sirah at an excellent price.
The Eponymous 2007 MacAllister Red is a single vineyard effort. All of the fruit comes from the namesake vineyard which is located on Mount Veeder. It’s located just past the peak of the mountain that separates Napa and Sonoma Valley. It’s on the Sonoma side of the Mayacamus range. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (57%), Cabernet Franc (28%) and Merlot (15%). The fruit was hand-picked and gently fermented. Barrel aging occurred over 20 months in a combination of French (90 percent) and American (10 percent) oak; half of the barrels utilized were new. Just over 1,000 cases of this wine were produced in the 2007 vintage, and it has a suggested retail price of $45.99. The 2008 has also just been released and is making its way to store shelves and restaurants. This Bordeaux-inspired blend is highly perfumed with cherry, raspberry and toasty oak notes practically leaping from the glass. The first sip reveals a palate that is both immediately accessible and also layered with complex flavors, both overt and subtle. Cherry, raspberry and spice flavors are of particular note. Dusty cocoa, earth and a host of spices such as coriander, allspice, black pepper and nutmeg are all in evidence on the finish, which has excellent length. This is a pleasing and elegant wine with luxurious mouth-feel. While it’s incredibly enjoyable and drinkable today it will benefit from additional aging. Bordeaux style blends from Napa and Sonoma Valley of this quality are usually priced north of $100 a bottle, so at around $45 this wine is an outright steal.
“What’s Bob’s secret?” you might be asking yourself. It’s sort of simple actually. He starts by sourcing grapes from trusted sources and vineyards he has direct control over. From that point he makes certain to pick each block of grapes at the most favorable moment possible. And when he gets the grapes back at the winery he gently handles them so that they result in wines that are well balanced and made to enjoy with food. Each of these wines, as well as every other wine I’ve tasted that Bob Pepi is responsible for, deliver outstanding value in their respective price points. If Bob made it, part with your money with the confidence that you’re getting an excellent product.