I started playing hockey when I was 6 and grew up watching the sport from my home in Wisconsin. There was no national hockey television presence in the 1980s, so I didn’t see very many L.A. Kings games, but certainly followed players like Marcel Dionne, Luc Robitalille, Bernie Nichols and Larry Murphy, even before Wayne Gretzky joined the franchise. Jim Fox was a consistent 30-goal scorers on those 80s Kings teams who didn’t always get the press of other teammates, but whom I admired because he played the game the way I tried to emulate. Fox was an undersized forward who embodied passion, hustle and heart (of course, he also had speed and skill and hands and a scoring touch that I could only dream of).
When I learned last year that Fox, now the color announcer on the Kings’ tv broadcasts, had followed a second love into the wine business, I had to give his wine a try. I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find that the same passion, hustle and heart he showed on the ice was also clearly distinguishable in his single vineyard Pinot Noirs.
Fox engaged Mike Smith as winemaker and along with wife Susie and friend Dean Nucich launched Patiné Cellars in 2011. Smith is responsible for a number of quality labels, including Quivet Cellars and Scarlett. They produce three distinctive single vineyard Pinot Noirs, each of which can be purchased in allocated 3-packs from the Patiné website at http://www.patinecellars.com (direct-to-consumer shipping is available to Texas and many other states, but may not be available to all states).
2014 Gap’s Crown Vineyard
The Gap’s Crown Vineyard is located on the western slope of Sonoma Mountain, in the Petaluma Gap, which exposes it to cool ocean breezes. The vineyard supplies grapes to a who’s who of Pinot Noir production in the region. I recently brought a bottle of the Patiné Cellars Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir to an annual neighborhood gathering and everyone who tried it was asking how to order their own. Everyone. Medium ruby in the glass, this Pinot starts out with black cherry, ripe plumb and blackcurrants and then layers on subtle cola and baking spice notes with hints of thyme and florals. This is a wine that is full-bodied with medium tannins and a rich finish that leaves you craving the next sip. It is a wine that can be appreciated equally by both Pinot Noir fans and Cab lovers.
2014 Sun Chase Vineyard
Higher up above the Gap’s Crown Vineyard in Southern Sonoma’s Petaluma Gap, the Sun Chase Vineyard lies above the morning fog line. It would be easy to describe it as more of a traditional Pinot than the Gap’s Crown, but that doesn’t do it justice since it is far from traditional. This vineyard produces a Pinot Noir with nuanced complexity and exceptional balance. The Patiné Cellars Sun Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir is a lighter ruby color than the Gap’s Crown, but it still packs into the palate rich cherry and plum, followed by lavender, cloves, and earth. Both the Sun Chase and Gap’s Crown Pinot Noirs have well-deserved 93+ point scores in Cellartracker.
2014 Soberanes Vineyard
The Soberanes Vineyard is located in the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County. The vineyard enjoys morning fog and the cooling marine influence of the Monterey Bay with ripening afternoon sun from its southern slope. Granite and marine sentiment among the boulders provide a distinctive earthy minerality to go along with its blueberry fruit and brighter acidity in the full-bodied wine.
The Patiné Cellars wines reviewed in this post were purchased from the winery website and no consideration was provided for the review.