Retrospective Tasting at Fess Parker Winery

On August 17th, at the inaugural SummerFess event at Fess Parker Winery, I got to moderate a special retrospective tasting inside the barrel room.

Winemaker Blair Fox pours for the crowd
Winemakers Eli Parker (Fess’ son) and Blair Fox (who became head winemaker in 2005) and winery president Tim Snider (Fess’ son-in-law) led the sell-out group through Ashley’s Vineyard chardonnays and Bien Nacido pinot noirs dating back to 2002, and Rodney’s Vineyard syrahs from as far back as 1999. 

My own take-away?  The ageability of these wines, even the whites, was remarkable.  With the chards – all from Ashley’s Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills – Fox credited the grapes’ remarkably high acidity, which have allowed these wines (especially the 2004, 2005 and 2006 vintages) to retain their freshness and zing. 

With the pinots – all sourced from the legendary Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year – the consensus was unanimous: age does these wines well.  Snider pointed out that even the 2002 vintage pinot retained its vibrancy, and I thought the 2005 pinot noir was beautifully structured, supple and lengthy.

The syrahs were a crowd favorite and would have made Fess Parker, who declared his preference for syrah to me on a few occasions, very proud.  Sourced from the winery’s estate Rodney’sVineyard off Foxen Canyon Road, even the 1999 vintage revealed balance of fruit and earth and I thought the 2002 and 2006 syrahs – full-bodied, layered and sophisticated – were gems.

In other Fess Parker Winery news: with Dave Potter having recently left the winemaking team to pursue his own endeavors full time (including Municipal Winemakers and GoodlandWines), David Baird has just been appointed assistant winemaker; previously, he was cellar master at Justin Winery in Paso Robles.

Blair Fox, and his wife Sarah, are also the powerhouse couple behind the ultra-boutique wine project, Blair Fox Wines.

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