Pinot at Papapietro Perry. Say it three times fast and just try to keep from getting tangled up in the tongue-twisting, alliteration. We dare you. If you’re like us, you’ll be laughing in no time.
On our summer trip to California, we discovered the Papapietro Perry tasting room in the Dry Creek Valley of northern Sonoma County. You may recall from last week, that we had an incredible tasting experience at Mauritson and adored their Zins and their amazing hospitality. The next stop that morning was Papapietro Perry. When you walk out of a truly amazing tasting experience, you hardly expect to walk into another equally exquisite tasting right afterwards. It just doesn’t happen. Only it did. Lucky us!
The same July issue of The Wine Spectator that led us to Mauritson also led us to Papapietro Perry. The focus of the article was Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. And while Papapietro Perry certainly makes amazing Zin, it was their Pinot Noir that we fell in love with. In fact, we hyperventilate with excitement when we even simply think about our first sips on that sunny, summer day.
Housed in a humble building and situated next to several tasting rooms nestled amongst vineyards on Dry Creek Road, the Papapietro Perry tasting room is simple, comfortable and small. Our pourer was welcoming, even as we admitted we only just learned of the winery and knew almost nothing about it. He proceeded to acquaint us with the Papapietro Perry story as he poured their Pinot.
From the first whiff of the wine, we were in awe. The aromas in the glass predicted full bodied Pinot with elegance and balance. And oh, that first taste— silky, plush, divine goodness. Pinot after pinot was brought out for us since Papapietro Perry’s hallmark is small lots of vineyard designated wines. Each one was a wine we’d easily put in our Top Ten Pinot Noir list. And they just kept coming. It was astounding. Honestly. I said words I have never uttered before in a tasting room: “Stop it!,” I cried, “It’s just so good, I don’t know if I can take it anymore!” Our pourer laughed appreciatively. Obviously, he sees this reaction a lot.
Ben Papapietro, a native San Franciscan of Italian descent, spent 37 years working in the news business. He worked alongside Bruce Perry, who shared Ben’s passion for wine. Ben began making wine in his garage 25 years ago. Bruce joined to help and the two friends gradually evolved their “garagista” wines into the sophisticated, elegant releases that are now Papapietro Perry. They sold their first vintage in the 1990’s and have gradually added more and more vineyard designates each year. They focus on Pinot and Zin made from notable vineyards in Sonoma’s Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys, as well as the Anderson Valley in neighboring Mendocino County.
You can imagine how thrilled we were when we received notice this past week that our first shipment from their wine club would be arriving on Friday. We began making plans to open a bottle that very night, ignoring the usual cautions to allow wine to settle after shipment. No, we needed our Papapietro Perry and we needed it right now.
We chose the 2010 Campbell Ranch Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast appellation. I literally got teary-eyed with appreciation and delight when I sniffed the aromas in the glass. Rose petals, wild cherries and a bit of spice. I drew in breath after breath, and thought I could sit sniffing this glass all evening and be happy. But then I noticed my Dear Darling Spouse was way ahead of me in sipping so, of course, I joined him. He sighed and spoke reverently of the floral notes, berries and pomegranate in the flavor, as well as the decadently long finish.
Ben Papapietro, who continues today as the winemaker, is quoted as saying that he aspires for his wines to be: “Authentic, not pretentious. Confident, but not too serious. Humble…an extension of my home and personal hospitality.” Well, Ben, we’ll gladly attest that you’ve done it.
So this week, we raise our glasses to humility coupled with excellence, to authenticity without pretension, and to liberal doses fun at the same time. Long live Papapietro Perry! Cheers!