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A rare beast indeed: a pinot noir from California that’ll steal the show without breaking the bank. Juicy red berry-scented pinot, with bright forward fruit flavours, soft integrated tannins and a succulent black cherry finish.
Product Code: US8751
View all products by Fess Parker
Those members of a certain age will remember the softly spoken Texan actor Fess Parker, who starred as Davy Crockett on TV in the mid-1950s and as Daniel Boone in the late 1960s. On retiring from acting he bought a ranch in 1989, in Santa Barbara County, and planted 5 acres of vineyards.Growing grapes and making some wine all began as a small venture for his own amusement, but, as his daughter Ashley pointed out some years later, ‘Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small.’Before long he had acquired more vineyards with the help of his children and the estate land now covers 700 acres with a winery at its heart. Today the estate is award winning, includes a hotel, spa and restaurant, and makes wine from several different vineyards in the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez valleys and the Santa Rita Hills. Fess Parker passed away in 2010 but had already handed over the reins to son Eli, who became the president of the company to add to his role as head winemaker. Ashley heads up the marketing and sales departments. Though the estate lies just an hour and a half north of Los Angeles, the elevation in the hills and the influence of the Pacific Ocean are keenly felt and cool-climate pinot noir and chardonnay are a speciality, though they also grow Rhône varieties, and grapes are sourced from other cooler-climate areas of California like Monterey.
The US wine industry was shaken by Prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s, and though there were some post-Prohibition producers of note it was not until the 1960s that a number of new kid-on-the-block winemakers began to explore and demonstrate the true potential of its regions.California was the first new world region to be recognised internationally as a source of top-quality wines. The late Robert Mondavi is credited with educating Americans on the benefits of good wine and good food, and the pristine, visitor-friendly wineries in California, particularly in Napa, are now the model for wine tourism across the world. California has been stereotyped as a producer of big, blockbuster-style reds and fat, oaky whites, and while these wines do exist, elegance and subtlety also play their part, helped by the cool Pacific winds and fog that blow in from the west and are sucked into the valleys by the warm air there, with a cooling effect on vineyards as far as 50 miles inland. These fogs burn off in the heat of the morning sun so there is no risk of Sauternes-like botrytis here.The most appetising styles come from these cooler regions close to the cold Pacific inshore currents or linked to it by valleys that allow the passage of its moderating influence. Soils across California are varied and wines are made on many different latitudes along its length so this Pacific air conditioning system is perhaps the key defining feature of viticulture in the state. For example, the state’s Central Valley, a fertile agricultural heartland where citrus, orchard fruit and many other crops are grown, receives hardly any of this influence and is better known as a bulk producer of grapes for so called jug wines or the very big wine brands. Napa and Sonoma are two regions that dominate Californian wine, but other regions have gained an excellent reputation, particularly those south of San Francisco, such as Paso Robles, Monterey, Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Maria Valley, the last of which is closer to Los Angeles than it is San Francisco but where there are vineyard areas cooler than in the Napa Valley thanks to that Pacific influence. California's star red grape varieties are cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel, with good support from pinot noir, chardonnay and a number of Rhône varieties, too, though there is a willingness to experiment and many more varieties are coming on stream.The majority of wine-producing areas are now regulated by a local appellation system called AVAs or American Viticultural Areas. These AVAs are not as stringent in their controls on vine growing and wine production as those of the European Union, specifying only the geographical location of the area in question and requiring that any wines labelled as AVA must be made using 85% of grapes from that area. No limitations are imposed on the grape varieties grown, the yields produced, or how they are made into wine. To qualify for AVA status petitioners must show that the area under consideration is well known, that there are distinct climatic and geographical features that set it apart and that the boundaries have a historical basis. This is clearly no appellation controlée system as they have in France but it is a beginning.
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"Expected more from this.."
Mr James Jack (03-Aug-2019)
"It was very popular with asparagus and salmon at our summer party. The points made by other reviewers seem valid but as an accompaniment to a jolly celebration we thought it worked better than a wine with gravitas."
Prof Richard Begent MD FRCP (25-Jun-2019)
"Another reviewer mentioned that the sweetness become too much after several glasses. I completely agree. Not to my taste."
Mr Ray Mount (26-May-2019)
Mr Nathan Eitutis (26-Jan-2019)
"Delightfully fresh light yet sufficiently interesting wine, slightly sweet but not too jammy. Not as serious as some Pinot Noirs but a lovely drink with or without food."
Mr Charles Stokes (04-Nov-2018)
"Bright strawberry affair!
Strawberry and forest floor on nose
Light tannins on palate make for a juicy yet decently complex bouquet of spicy vanilla with acidic strawberry
As California Pinot is ok at price
Opened first day and left it corked - much improved on second day
Mr Hugo Allen-Stevens (23-Oct-2018)
"It’s fairly quaffable but feels more like a Merlot than a PN..."
Mr James Pryar (11-Oct-2018)
"This is immediately appealing but the sweetness palls after a few mouthfuls. For me, lacks balance, not enough tannin or acidity. "
Mrs Amanda J Joyce (07-Oct-2018)
"I've always generally found Pinot Noir a little thin and lacking in real body! Mainly due to my personal taste for more meaty, full bodied reds but this is a great wine, really great wine for the price and a standard out against the rest. It gives up plenty of punch without the heaviness of the usual full bodied suspects. Ideal summer red wine if you want substance and flavour but still retain a lightness in depth. "
Mr Nick Leitch (04-Aug-2018)
"This is one of my favs... it is very drinkable with food or without. The price alone makes it a must buy but the depth of flavour is wonderful. A true delight and one I will carry on enjoying. "
Mr Jake Hall (17-May-2018)
"This was the red we drank with our big bird on Christmas day. We all thought it was absolutely delicious and exactly right with a slightly gamey dish. The TV celeb connection made me hesitate before buying but this is a really classy PN at a very reasonable price.
Prof Richard J Rathbone (26-Dec-2017)
"Lovely gulper. Very reasonably priced, after given a little time to air this was a truly great buy. Would recommend to anyone looking to buy Pinot Noir for a party or celebration."
Mr Jake Hall (19-Dec-2017)
Manchester Evening News (9th Sep 2017)
"This is about as good
as it gets at this price for Pinot Noir. The wine is made by the Parker family
using grapes from cooler climate sites in Monterey, Santa Barbera and San Luis
Obispo counties - if you've ever seen the film Sideways you'll be in the right
area if you think of the vineyards depicted there. On the nose there's charcoal
and clove with a little toasty oak and some spice. The palate bursts with
sweetish red fruits while a little black tea and soft tannins add a nice
balance. - Andy Cronshaw"
Sheffield Profile (2nd Sep 2017)
"Pinot noir is always
a treat - but often heavy on the pocket. This oaky, redcurrant and cranberry
laden option from California straddles the boundary between quality and
affordability. One to have with everything, to every occasion. - Ellen Beardmore"
"This wine has some subtle and interesting fruit notes, which are almost completely overridden by the wine's sweetness. It is difficult to place with food, and for this reason it is not for us. However it is a quality wine, medium bodied, smooth and with structure. I suggest this is better as a glass on its own on a warm summer evening. My best guess at a food match would be a good ham salad, and I think this wine would best be enjoyed by those who do not usually choose red wine, finding it either too strong/rich or too dry. AM Dorset. May 2017."
Mr Alistair MacLennan (21-May-2017)
tv3.ie (18th Aug 2017)
"A charming, graceful
pinot with cherry blossom aromas and a silky palate of juicy redcurrants and
ripe berry fruits. Oaky spice takes a back seat and there’s an earthy
minerality on the fresh finish. Stylish and energetic, she’s a keeper. - Sam Wylie Harris"
The Scotsman (12th Aug 2017)
"Remember the Davy
Crockett TV series? Fess Parker, who founded this winery in 1989, was the actor
who played this popular figure in the 1950s. Made from a Monterey, Santa
Barbera and San Luis Obispo blend, the Parkers have created this charming,
cherry fruited plummy pinot noir with fine tannins and a hint of oak. We
normally have to pay more for Californian pinot. - Rose Murray Brown"
Liverpool Echo (12th Aug 2017)
"This is one of those
wines I forget to sip because I keep waving the glass in front of my nose to
savour the aromas. It hails from Santa Barbara County, the Californian wine
region made famous by the cult movie Sideways. It has a delightful potpourri of
sweet red fruits, cherry and raspberry, a lick of vanilla, a wave of violets
and a touch of wet soil (go with me on that one). I finally took a sip and
loved the flavours too; cherry, strawberry, a hint of savoury, with medium
acidity and tannins. Grill a salmon. - Jane Clare"
I can't risk buying this wine. I got a case of the 2014 and it was the sweetest red wine I have ever tasted-by a long long way. I see several posters liked it so de gustibus etc.
So sweet was it that I did something I've never done before-I tried mixing it with the inexpensive Despagne pinot noir from the Midi. I tried 50/50. The sweetness cut straight through.
It's essentially a version of Ribena.
As background my tastes in wine are eclectic and I have no hankering after dryness-I like middle sweet Vouvrays and Alsatians and Germans for example.
(Reading this back I guess there may have been some student days lambrusco this sweet and I exclude a glass of Maydie served with chocolate on a degustation menu once)"
Mr Rory Todd (04-May-2017)
"An unexpected wine - Recent USA wines (not WS) I have purchased have been sweet & jammy . Slightly tart redcurrant flavour to begin but balances out with soft tannins & touch of oak. Went really well with chicken pie(?) Wine Society USA wines really well chosen in my experience."
Mr Colin Mitchell (02-Dec-2016)
"Well balanced and clean taste, a great easy drinking wine."
Mr James Clyne (20-Aug-2016)
"Pale ruby red. Absolutely delicious mouthful of sweet cherry and raspberry fruit with quite a viscous mouth feel. Slips down all too easily. A real crowd-pleaser. Very impressive stuff for the price"
Philip Harvey Esq (06-Jun-2016)
"Had this on its own last night. Excellent considering the relatively modest price. No huge length and very much fruit driven, but lovely sweet flavours of strawberry and cherry. Avoids sickly sweetness though and the overall feeling reminded me of better californian pinots."
Mrs Kate Renton (01-Jun-2016)
"If you wonder what all the fuss is about US pinots, this wine answers the question. The nose is really difficult to place; earthy with sweet mint is the nearest I could get to. In the mouth this is a revelation. Blackcurrant and strawberries, sweetness, and a real fullness of flavour. If you want your pinots drier and more subtle stick with your burgundies maybe, but if you want a crowd pleaser that definitely punches above its weight price-wise, this is a really classy pinot with lots of character to talk about. I am a great French GSM fan and would recommend this to any southern Rhone devotees."
Mr Alastair Black (14-Dec-2015)
Hampshire View (1st Dec 2015)
and cranberry, succulent and immediately appealing... sources fruit from the
cooler climes of Monterey and Santa Barbara County, and is ridiculously good
value. - Sally Easton MW"
JancisRobinson.com (12th Nov 2015)
"Pale cherry red.
Sweet, charry red. Very sweet start and well blended. Not a long-term wine,
with a hint of beetroot, but for a characterful California red it’s good value.
16/20 Jancis Robinson"
thewinegang.com (3rd Nov 2015)
"A remarkable price
for a Californian Pinot from cooler climate sites in Monterey and Santa Barbara
County, and a good quality one at that. Made in a juicy, light and accessible
style, it offers a bright, plump raspberry fruit quality and a suave feel, with
a freshening touch of cherryish acidity that makes for very easy drinking.
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