Friday, 11/11/16, night at Wine Country Bottle Shop, we hosted a tasting showcasing some wines I have fallen in love with over the last two years. The Textbook and Forager wines. Forager is a more recent crush but I’ll been really into the Textbook wines for a while. We wanted to show everyone what Jonathan and Susan Pey are capable of while producing a range of wines that can appeal to any wine drinker. Who are these two and why should you know them?
Jonathan has lived, learned, and worked with some of the industry’s biggest names and leaders. He’s gotten to work with Domaine Louis Jadot in France, Robert Mondavi, Schramsberg, Penfolds in Australia, and even some Bordeaux chateaux. Susan comes from the service side of the industry and works as Wine Director for a large Bay Area restaurant group. Both are a huge part of what makes these wines great.
Initially it was the Textbook wines that really caught my attention because of their Merlot. I constantly preach about Merlot being overlooked and bastardized when the truth is that it is a phenomenal grape. I really pay attention to a winery that produces a Merlot that is just as well constructed as their Cabernet. Textbook definitely does it. So any project of theirs, I’m pretty much all in.
So what did we taste? We tasted though the 2014 Forager Chardonnay, 2014 Forager Pinot Noir, 2014 Textbook Chardonnay, 2013 Textbook Merlot, 2014 Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2013 Textbook “Mise En Place” Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. Here’s what I thought:
Forager Chardonnay, Los Carneros, Sonoma 2014 $23
Nose: Fresh cut apples, a little bit of lemon peel, and some baking spices
Taste: Stone fruit, sharp apple flavors, medium + acidity, and checked baking spice
This is a great Chardonnay to have pair with since the oak isn’t as prominent. It does have some extra zip with the acid so it’s perfect for fish or a fruit and cheese plate.
Textbook Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2014 $25
Nose: Baked apples and baking spice
Taste: Sweet brûléed apples, fresh cut Granny Smith apples, lots of baking spices, medium acidity
Here’s more of “textbook” Napa Valley Chardonnay. It drinks easy with more weight than the Forager. It has much more New World characteristics.
Forager Pinot Noir, Sonoma 2014 $26
Nose: Cherry, cola, pipe tobacco, and slight decay
Taste: Cherries and cola come through, medium + acidity, French Oak hints on the back end
This shows a lot of the Burgundy experience Jonathan Pey has while retaining its California fruit. It drinks the way a Pinot Noir from the area should without being an over extracted fruit bomb.
Textbook Merlot, Napa Valley 2013 $25
Nose: Blackberry bramble, briar, vanilla
Taste: Black fruit, blackberry, sweet vanilla tobacco, medium bodied, medium + tannin, medium acidity
I love this wine. The fruit is balanced with the spice and body. The tannins won’t let you forget you are drinking it. This is a steak wine all day long.
Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2014 $31
Nose: Blackberry jam, currants, tobacco
Taste: Black currants, vanilla oak, medium + tannin, full bodied
The fruit pops a lot more on this Cabernet than the Merlot. Not in a sweet way, it’s just much more forward and works in tandem with vanilla spice from the oak. The tannins are big but very well integrated. Velvety smooth.
Textbook “Mise en place” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2013 $73
Nose: Blackberry, blueberry, briar, dark chocolate
Taste: Dark chocolate, black currant, medium + tannin, full bodied
Mise en place is probably one of my favorite phrases. It is a French culinary phrase that means “everything in it’s place” which can apply to just about anything in life. In my opinion, in this situation it’s a reference to where this wine comes from. Mise en place’s grapes are sourced from areas right next to Screaming Eagle, To-Kalon, and Paradigm. It’s a massive wine in flavor with an elegant density. The tannins are big and fine. It’s like they are constantly tapping you on the shoulder saying “remember me? I’m still here.” The alcohol was really in check when I tasted it because it had been double decanted 3 times. And y’all, it still could have used another hour or so in the decanter. The wine will hold up for years and would be a great gift for a collector. If you have the patience to hold it, try to for atleast 4 years.
It was really fun and a great experience to taste all of these wines together. I have tasted them separately over the last year or so but it was really interesting to have them side by side. I’d urge you to try any one of these that tickles your fancy. Look for more tastings at the bottle shop coming up!
(Prices included in this article are an estimation and not exact)