Seillan: California 2017 vintage ‘in top 5 of past 20 years’

6th October, 2017 by Patrick Schmitt

This year’s vintage in California will rate as one of the greatest of the past 20 years, according to Vérité winemaker Pierre Seillan.

Speaking in London on Monday this week about the conditions in Sonoma County, the source region for Vérité’s triumvirate of wines made from Bordeaux grapes, Seillan said that 2017 was a “great” vintage, adding that he would place it in quality terms among the “top five vintages of the past 20 years”.

In particular, he said that the vines had benefitted from the large amount of ground water due to an unusually wet winter in California, which had in fact brought flooding to low-lying areas of Sonoma and Napa.

“We had a great winter with a lot of rain, which is good for us, because most of our blocks are dry farmed,” he said.

Although neighbouring Napa suffered a freak hailstorm on 11 June, the impact was localized, and the only climatic extremes affecting Sonoma during this year’s growing season were very high summertime temperatures, according to Seillan.

However, he added that the heatwave had only negatively affected a small proportion of the Merlot used in his wines, and, because Vérité uses grapes grown on exposed hillsides at relatively high altitudes, where the nights are cool, a large diurnal temperature swing had ensured gradual ripening.

“Just a few lots of Merlot were challenging because the grape doesn’t like it when it gets too hot, it is very susceptible to heat, but we have beautiful Merlot from Jackson Park and the Alexander Valley, and all the other grapes [used for Vérité] are beautiful,” he said, adding that he was just finishing the harvest of Cabernet Franc “now”, but that the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot had been picked.

More generally, he said that because heatwaves had become more common in California he was grateful he sourced grapes from Sonoma, and not the generally warmer Napa – which is of course more famous than Sonoma, particularly when it comes to fine wines made from Bordeaux grape varieties.

“After 20 years making wine in California I am very pleased I chose Sonoma,” he said.

“And now, with climate change, you see many looking at Sonoma, and even Mendocino,” he added.

As previously reported by the drinks business, Seillan also said that Sonoma County offers more fine wine potential than any other region worldwide, due to its climate, as well as its soils and topography.

“With the soil diversity in Sonoma, the topography, and because the rules allow me to blend across different terroirs, we have more potential in Sonoma than the rest of the world,” he said, in part comparing the Californian region to more strictly-regulated Bordeaux, where he made wine for 22 years.

Vérité is owned by Jackson Family Wines and comprises three wines: La Muse, which is Merlot-dominant, and seen as Sonoma’s answer to Pomerol; La Joie, which is a Cabernet-dominant equivalent to Pauillac, and finally, Le Désir, which is dominated by Cabernet Franc, and considered to be more akin to Saint-Emilion.

The grapes for Vérité are mostly sourced from the 45-hecatere Jackson Park Vineyard, situated at over 165m above sea level on the rolling slopes above Benett Valley in Sonoma, as well as the Alexander Mountain Estate in the eastern part of Alexander Valley, covering slopes from 200-700m altitude, and, to a lesser extent, the Kellogg Estate in the volcanic soils of the Knights Valley.

Seillan came to London to present the 2014 vintage release of Vérité on Monday 2 October to a mixture of trade and press.

A full report on the release will appear in an upcoming edition of the drinks business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

New Business Development Manager Nordic

Concha Y Toro
Stockholm, Sweden

Experienced Administrator

The Drinks Business
Central London, UK

Sales Executive (London – Craft Spirits)

Bimber Distillery
London, UK

2 x Buying Assistants

Berry Bros. & Rudd
Battersea and Basingstoke, UK

Temporary Christmas Sales Support - Wines & Spirits

Harrods
Knighsbridge, London, UK

Head of Wholesale

Hispamerchants Ltd
London, UK

Sales Manager

Hispamerchants Ltd
London, UK

The World Bulk Wine Exhibition

Amsterdam,Netherlands
20th Nov 2017

The Drinks Business Green Awards 2017

London,United Kingdom
20th Nov 2017

The Global Spirits Masters Lunch

London,United Kingdom
1st Dec 2017
Click to view more

Green Awards 2017

Deadline : 25th October 2017

The Global Riesling Masters 2017

Deadline : 30th October 2017

Click to view more

Champagne Masters 2017

The only Champagne blind tasting in the UK, the competition will reward the best wines in the following categories:

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

Click to view more