Culled From Santa Lucia’s Most Hallowed Vineyards
Whether it is a $1,000 Grand Cru or a $20 bargain, only wines that clear the 90-point bar make it past our tasting panel — which includes a Master of Wine and a Master Sommelier — and into the Wine Access lineup. Dean DeKorth surpasses that standard regularly with wines from Santa Lucia Highlands’ most hallowed vineyards.This blockbuster vintage 2014 Bernardus Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir amounted to a softball for Bernardus winemaker Dean DeKorth, the Monterey native whose long history crafting gorgeous wines goes back to his days with Leflaive, Lafon, and Morey, some of the most renowned producers in Burgundy’s Cote d’Or. At Bernardus, DeKorth has authored single-vineyard beauties from famous sites like Pisoni, Garys’, and Soberanes vineyards that stand toe-to-toe with the full-throttle Pinots of Kosta Browne, ROAR, and Siduri. But while Kosta Browne’s 2014 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir will set you back $104 — this 2014 Bernardus boasts the same-appellation provenance, a Burgundy expert — and homegrown — winemaker, and a very modest price.
The 2014 Bernardus Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir is bottled proof of the stellar conditions that graced California’s Golden Coast in the 2014 season, inspiring the Wine Advocate to give it an “outstanding” highest-in-the-decade 93 points. 2014 was one of the driest on record in Monterey County, which led to early-season stress on the vines. As fewer berries competed for the same nutrients, berry size was smaller and natural concentration correspondingly higher.
Give DeKorth those raw materials, and something special is bound to happen. He has proven that it doesn’t take a big-name vineyard to make a big-time impact. Exhibit A is the 2014 SLH Pinot, which impressed our experts at a price point well below that of the swanky vineyard-designate wines that keep Bernardus on every critic’s radar.