Vérité Wine Tasting – Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2009



I usually attend wine seminars with a bit of hesitation. Too many times I have been excited only to have my hopes dashed as I sit for an hour-long “sales pitch” of a particular winery. Nothing could have been further from the truth with the seminar “Vérité Winery – Bordeaux Blends from the Best Sonoma Terroirs” at the 2nd Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine weekend. Why was this one of the best wine seminars I have ever attended? Simple. Vigneron Winemaster Pierre Seillan. He was affable, funny, knowledgeable and so inspirational that I wanted to start planting my own vineyard ASAP. Not only did I get to taste 8 (yes, I said eight!!) wonderful wines, but I also learned a ton.

The Vérité name comes from the French word for “truth” and Seillan believes his job as a winemaker is to bring forth the truth of the terroir. In Sonoma, he has found some of the best terroirs in the world for growing Bordeaux-style reds that knock your socks off. And is he ever picky. For each vintage he selects grapes from nearly 100 micro-crus, hand selects the oak for his barrels from 10 different forests and uses up to five degrees of toasting on any one barrel. What are micro-crus? Well, Seillan doesn’t just settle for mico-climates, instead believing that within one vineyard there could be rows of micro-crus that each have their own separate climate/terroir combination that gives the grapes in that row unique characteristics. Walk 50 yards and you will find another micro-cru.

Each year, Seillan might start 40 different wines that lead to a release of just three Vérité wines per vintage. Why does he do this? To create a well balanced, complex wine that can be cellared for decades or enjoyed the day you buy it. The process always avoids any one overwhelming characteristic to the wine, thus allowing for sustained complexity as it ages.

I think the real reason I enjoyed listening to Seillan so much is best captured by something he said at the end of the tasting. He mentioned that chemistry shouldn’t drive winemaking, but that the farmer (that’s what he sees himself as) should let the soil, wind, elevation, rain, exposure (the terroir) dictate what to do. He related winemaking to raising a child, “feed them (the vines) well, keep a watchful eye and stick to the basics.” Well, Mr. Seillan, your children have grown up to be the leaders of industry!!

Here is what we tasted. Watch out for the 2005’s… as a group they were amazing!!
Each bottle retails for ~$200


1998 La Muse (90% Merlot, 10% Cab Sauvignon)
Beautiful color, nice nose of chocolate and great sweet blackberry fruit with the first taste. Not too heavy, soft tannins.

1998 La Joie (70% Cab Sauvignon, 30% Merlot)
Much bigger, bolder wine than La Muse. Heavier tannins with rich dark fruity flavor.

2002 La Muse (92.5% Merlot, 7.2% Cab Franc, .3% Malbec)
Incredible nose of rich blueberry and herbs. Full bodied, yet soft on the palette.

2002 La Joie (64.2% Cab Sauvignon, 28.5% Merlot, 7% Cab Frac, .3% Malbec)
Wow!! This wine knocked me on my butt!! Big, bold and complex. Nose of blackberries and chocolate, with soft tannins and an explosion of dark, “jammy” fruit.

2002 Le Désir (52.7% Merlot, 41.2% Cab Franc, 4.5% Cab Sauvignon, 1.6% Malbec)
Wonderful berry and floral aroma with tons of juicy fruit up front. Smooth tannins leave you with a very refreshing sense.

2005 Le Muse (88% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc, 2% Malbec)
An outstanding wine. Great aroma of licorice and cherries followed by a burst of dark fruit through the middle. Tannins are a bit heavy but this wine is young.

2005 La Joie (67% Cab Sauvignon, 12% Cab Franc, 12% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec)
Another wow wine!! Great deep purple color. Incredible currant aroma and full of “jammy” dark fruit across your palette. Big, bold, well balanced, this will age exceptionally well.

2005 Le Désir (50% Cab Franc, 39% Merlot, 9% Cab Sauvignon, 2% Malbec)
Nice nose of dark cherries. This wine tastes “cool.” Very refreshing, fruit forward with a bit of spice in the aftertaste.


2 Responses

  1. Did you get a chance to try the MacPhail Family Wines’ Pinot?

  2. Yes, I did… both at the farm to table lunch (06) and at the Grand Tasting. Both were outstanding. I liked the 06 better (see the blog about the farm to table lunch above).

    A side note… James MacPhail is great. He spent a great deal of time with me just talking about process and his passion for wine. I can’t wait to visit the winery and check it out in person. He told me to call ahead since it’s a family operation and he doesn’t have a large staff.

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