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Caraccioli Cellars Santa Lucia Highlands Estate Pinot Noir 2010
In 2006 Gary enticed his Uncle Jim and brother Phil, to expand their agricultural roots into the wine businesswith the idea that they would make an exclusive and original wine that was not being produced anywhere else in the area. His goal was to develop a sophisticated and complex sparkling wine specific to the Santa Lucia Highlands.
When Gary met Michel Salgues and Joe Rawitzer, the plan was set into motion. Salgues, who was born and raised in France, and Rawitzer a Monterey County native of Swiss Italian decent, view wine very similarly to Gary. Their belief: to enhance the consumer's experiance through the best grapes and most stringent procedures.
?Today the Caraccioli’s continue to produce Brut and Brut Rose sparkling wine varietals as well as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The fourth generation of the Caraccioli family has joined the founders in their venture. In fact Gary’s son, Scott, is head of marketing and oversees day-to-day operations. In between running a thriving winery, guests can likely see the Caraccioli family members pop in and out of the tasting room or along the streets of the city. Scott is often found heading to a meeting in Carmel or Monterey where he sits in executive positions on boards for several organizations including the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and the Carmel Wine Walk.
Caraccioli wines have been described as “Old World” with deep roots, which is no surprise coming from this old world family
Perhaps the most highly regarded appellation within Monterey County, Santa Lucia Highlands AVA benefits from a combination of warm morning sunshine and brisk afternoon breezes, allowing grapes to ripen slowly and fully. The result is concentrated, flavorful wines that retain their natural acidity. Wineries here do not shy away from innovation, and place a high priority on sustainable viticultural practices.
The climatic conditions here are perfectly suited to the production of ripe, rich Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These Burgundian varieties dominate an overwhelming percentage of plantings, though growers have also found success with Syrah, Riesling and Pinot Gris.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Villages or Cru level wines.