Tom (left) and Peter Stolpman with the third generation (right)
We talk Roussanne, Beaucastel, Sine Qua Non and family with Pete Stolpman…
Pete Stolpman sees the low-yielding, late-ripening Roussanne as the most-likely grape to land his 30 year old vineyard on the pedestal of the most sought-after, collectible wines in the world.
Pete and his wife Jessica fell more deeply in love with white Rhône wines when they discovered the aged beauty of JL Chave Hermitage Blanc, particularly a magnum of 1983 served at their engagement dinner. The couple raved about the experience to the extent that the Stolpman team gave them a second 1983 magnum as a wedding present. Pete and Jess savoured that magnum to the very last drop on their first wedding anniversary in 2014.
Further back in his career, Pete participated in a few blind tastings in which both L’Avion and the world-renowned Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Roussanne Vieilles Vignes (100% Roussanne) were entered. Not coincidentally, in 1988 the Perrin family who own Beaucastel, placed an offer to purchase the Stolpmans’ Limestone parcel. After the owner of the land tried to start a bidding war between the Perrins and Tom Stolpman, the Perrins decided to launch their American winery, Tablas Creek, 90 miles north in the warmer Paso Robles AVA. Tom Stolpman finally convinced the cattle rancher to sell to him in 1990. Tom then acquired newly imported Beaucastel vine cuttings from the Perrins and the Perrins have returned to Stolpman twice to examine the trellising techniques and taste their wines alongside Stolpman.
Pete Stolpman comments, “Whenever we taste French Roussanne alongside ours, the richness and density of L’Avion and even our regular Estate Roussanne bottling stand out. Less rainfall here, and a longer growing season, allow for concentration and an intense, hedonistically ripe profile. The Limestone soils and cool nights retain acidity so there is more substance on both the front and the back palate.
My first ‘aha moment’ with Roussanne actually happened with a local Santa Barbara County wine that had similar intensity. In the 1990s, Dad sold fruit to Manfred Krankl of Sine Qua Non. Part of their deal was that Dad would get some wine back for every ton purchased. I discovered the 1997 Sine Qua Non Twisted and Bent– which was Roussanne-based blended with Chardonnay. The opulent, sultry, smooth profile blew me away. I discovered a trove of those bottles in the back of Dad’s cellar and we polished them off when they were 10-12 years old.”
That SQN blend appears to have made a lasting impact. Today, Pete adds Chardonnay in varying amounts, to all of his Roussanne cuvees. The top tier L’Avion usually just about 7%, the Estate Roussanne 12%, and a newer cuvee named after the local Santa Barbara delicacy ‘Uni’ gets about 30% Chardonnay.
“For the two traditional bottlings, L’Avion and Estate Roussanne, our goal is to blend just enough early-harvested Chardonnay to lift the finish with more acidity, but while blending, we back down the percentage if we begin to smell or taste the Chardonnay as we want the wine’s perfume and body to be all about the glorious Roussanne grape!”
While the prices of the Stolpman Roussanne bottles are still modest in comparison to Sine Qua Non (north of £200 per bottle) and Beaucastel Vieilles Vignes (£125+), Pete is excited about the future of the wines on the world stage.
“It’s been fun to watch our export markets, whether in the UK, Scandinavia, Japan or Korea, go nuts over our Roussanne – it truly is a unique expression of the grape. The resources we dedicate to farming the 19 acres we’ve planted shows through to the wine’s quality. What I am most proud of is that our Roussanne, especially L’Avion, improves with age just like my favorite Roussannes in the world, wines I can’t afford to drink more than once or twice a year. The 2005 and 2008 L’Avion are my favorite vintages at the moment, and at least here in the US, our private clients collect L’Avion to cellar. The colour grows a deeper gold – stunning when decanted - and the toasty oak bonds into the fleshy texture, but the fruit profile remains fresh.”
At a vertical tasting of old L’Avion hosted in Stolpman’s cellar, Sommelier turned winemaker Rajat Parr remarked, “the fruit purity of old L’Avion is flash frozen!”
"One of the best new world Roussannes"
Stolpman Vineyards L'Avion Roussanne 2017
98+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “In the late summer, team Stolpman pull every leaf away from the fruit to allow for full sun penetration. A month prior to harvest, when the sun exposed side of each cluster tans, but the inside remains green, every grape cluster is gently hand rotated 180 degrees to facilitate an even suntan. The focus, determination and attention to detail provides one of the best new world Roussannes, in my opinion. Spiced pear, apple, buttered citrus, tangerine skin, orange blossom and honey unfold majestically from the glass. There’s theatre, with golden hues whilst the viscous intensity grips the side of my glass with all its life. The palate is concentrated, full bodied with waves of honey and buttered fruits covering every facet. There’s a spiciness (fresh ginger) which gently starts at the tip of my tongue and continues to lay a path of warmth all the way back. Intensity is the core of this wine, with minerality and acidity providing some welcome relief. With time, honeysuckle and peach emerge, but so too does the spiciness, which I love. Emphatically long; never-ending to be perfectly honest and will continue to provide an extraordinary wine experience for many years to come. Do not overchill. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware”.
98-99 Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "I adore its aromas, which are truly luxuriant. It hypnotises with a combination of minerals, citrus and toast all-in-one. Ripe yellow limes, orange, buttered citrus with notes of toasted almonds and marzipan. A whiff of smoke completes this sensational perfume beautifully. The palate mirrors the aromas perfectly, which is just what I was hoping for given its spellbinding power. Super textural and utterly mesmerising, it is irresistible today, but I imagine this will only improve if you have enough patience to allow it some time. Sampled using Zalto Bordeaux Glass following half hour of decanting"
"Textural and layered with unctuous flavours"
Stolpman Vineyards Estate Roussanne 2017
97+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “The bouquet reveals itself with honey, beeswax, melted candle wax, orange blossom and a wonderful floral lift – Smoked minerals develop with more aeration. As expected from Stolpman, the palate feel is luxurious, but the flavours are not overworked. There’s a real northern Rhône feel to the flavour profile and structure with buttered citrus, honey, slight bitter marmalade, honeysuckle and quince laying ribbons of flavour across my palate. There is intensity, but the vineyard’s limestone soils and cold nights provide just the right dose of acidity for perfect control. I find the super long finish particularly interesting as subtle, spiced orchard fruits develop with the presence of fresh, grated ginger… Drinking beautifully today and will do so for at least 5-8 years. Do not overchill – cool, room temperature being ideal. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”
97 Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "Glossy, liquid gold colour and exuberant perfume which makes for a grand entrance. The aroma carries serious floral intensity with honeysuckle and roses intermixed with honeyed pears, Seville orange marmalade and beeswax. The abundance of stone fruit and citrus continues to cascade on the palate with a great bite of orange zest. Textural and layered with unctuous flavours, everything is spot on giving us a harmonious and sensuous experience. Sampled using Zalto Bordeaux Glass without decanting."
"Hypnotic, in a word and worthy of 100 points"
Stolpman Vineyards Estate Grown Syrah 2017
97++ - 98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “Pete describes this wonderful wine as ‘screamingly delicious’ and yet again, this is a perfect summary. What a wine (it’s incredibly addictive) – the bouquet draws you into a heady mix of super-ripe blueberry compote, the sweetest and most heavenly spray from potpourri, the spicing is sweet and exotic. I love the minerality and sea kelp (a strong sense of marine if you swirl and leave for 30 seconds before inhaling). Hypnotic, in a word and worthy of 100 points. The palate is just a joy with mineral-laced blueberry, red cherry compote and unmistakable floral pastille followed by swathes of sweet spices. Velvety in texture and super-fresh. I implore all lovers of high quality Aussie Shiraz to try this – I bet £100 (donated to charity) that we will not receive one negative review. I am stunned. 98% Syrah 2% Viognier. Decanted for two hours and served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”
"From the original planting of the estate from 1992"
Stolpman Vineyards Originals Syrah 2013
Jeb Dunnuck (RobertParker.com) “What's becoming the flagship Syrah for the estate, the 2013 Syrah Originals Estate comes from the original planting of the estate from 1992. It offers more texture, depth, richness and elegance over the Estate Syrah and possesses beautiful notes of creme de cassis, barbecue smoke, crushed pepper and violets. Medium to full-bodied, ripe and textured, yet always pure and balanced, it will have a decade of longevity.”
"A model of the ripe yumminess, the heavenly 2018 vintage will go down in history."
Stolpman Vineyards La Cuadrilla Red Wine 2018
97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “Pete Stolpman’s assessment is spot on; “A model of the ripe yumminess, the heavenly 2018 vintage will go down in history.” The bouquet offers an impressive concoction of soused cherry and sweet spices along with hypnotic potpourri, vanilla and liquorice. I love the aromatic depth. The palate is expansive and weightier compared to the Para Maria. Layer upon layer unfold with ripe blue and black fruits – there’s a plumpness and sheen to the fruit with lavender, sweet spices and a little menthol contrasting beautifully. The tannins are silky smooth. Perfectly pure and for twenty-quid, this will leave you weak at the knees. Excellent. Drink now to 2025. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware. 70% Syrah, 15% Sangiovese, 15% Grenache.”
"This is simply gorgeous and so appealing straight from the bottle... Irresistible and fabulous value."
Stolpman Vineyards Para Maria Red Wine 2017
96+ - 97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “This is simply gorgeous and so appealing straight from the bottle. The bouquet is fabulous with blueberry compote, plum, black cherry, leather, spice and a little dried herbal character. The palate is a real joy and is drinking a lot better than I recall (I first sampled this around 12 months ago). 40% of the Syrah component underwent carbonic maceration which provides a glorious feel of freshness and lifts the wine’s palate feel (such freshness). The fruit is ripe and generous with cherry, blueberry, mulberry and creme de mure – all flowing effortlessly. Graceful, joyous and must be the ‘red wine for the summer garden 2021.’ Irresistible and fabulous value. Drink now to 2025. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware. 80% Syrah / 20% Petit Verdot.”
Stolpman Vineyards mixed 6 pack
This six pack provides this perfect introduction to Stolpman wines with a mix of all 6 wines on offer.
SAVE £8.40 on a case of 6
RRP £168.35 per case
NOW £159.95 per case
Orin Swift Mercury Head Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Dave Phinney – “Dark violet with a ruby crown, the wine exhibits classic Napa Cabernet aromatics with our style: black fruits—plum and cherry—dark chocolate, leather and Rutherford Dust coalesce from the glass. The entry is elegant and begins to flood the palate with notes of cassis, blackberry, blueberry, caramel and a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon: rich and bold. Seamless and focused, the wine closes with lingering dusty tannins and a touch of baking chocolate.”
**Available for delivery w/c 5th July**
Orin Swift Papillon Napa Valley Red Wine 2018
Dave Phinney – “A neon indigo pours into the glass and sits with a dark garnet core and a lucid cardinal tint. A boisterous nose escapes the glass with aromatics of ripe boysenberry, kirsch, mixed dark berry pie, California Coastal sagebrush and chaparral. Delectable and plush on the palate, notes of blackberry and sweet black licorice culminate in a finish of dusty tannins and ripe black plum.”
Orin Swift Abstract California Red Wine 2019
Dave Phinney – “Aromatics with gravity, the wine pulls you in with notes of blueberry, black fig, bloodied strawberry and hints of musk and rhubarb. Bold on the entry, the palate exudes rich notes of dark plum and ripe framboise with a slightly chalky texture. The wine transitions effortlessly to a finish of black cherry, sweet licorice and some quick drying tannins.”
Anthill Farms Campbell Ranch Pinot Noir 2018
98+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “Perhaps not the most complex in their collection however, the deep-set flavours satisfy me beyond description. Odd for some to understand, but I have a nostalgic / emotional connection and there is not much more I can add save for, it is comparable to hugging an old friend you haven’t seen for years. The bouquet is breathtaking and evocative with wild strawberry, black raspberry, sweet spice, cedar, pencil wood and orange peel. Scents of autumnal woodland emerge with more aeration. It’s so homely and incredibly inviting – I'm swooning! The palate is perfectly balanced. The fruit is judiciously ripe and balanced with a zip of blood orange acidity and super-fine tannins. The harmony, grace and presence are as attractive as the fruit itself – ethereal and exquisitely defined. Poured with Zalto Burgundy glassware and straight from the bottle. Decant if you wish (one hour will suffice). Exceptional now but has the potential to age for 8-10 years. Unquestionably, my favourite and most sustaining Pinot Noir in 2020…”
98 Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "Sampled after decanting. Beautiful perfume oozes from the glass, alluring and almost exotic. Strawberries, wild forest fruit with a dusting of spice and a great citrus lift. Although young, the palate shows incredible texture with summer fruits infused with sweet spice and filigree tannins. What a beautifully crafted Pinot Noir – sensuous, lively and so effortless. The expectations here were high given my fond memories of the 2012, 2013 and the superb 2014 vintage. What a brilliant Campbell Ranch! I’m impressed."
Antonio Galloni "The 2018 Pinot Noir Campbell Ranch is a wine of real substance and depth. Sweet red cherry, spice, crushed flowers, mint and blood orange all run through this plaint, wonderfully expressive Pinot. The Campbell Ranch has quite a bit of depth, yet it very much remains within the understated style that is such a signature of the house style."
Anthill Farms Harmony Lane Pinot Noir 2018
94-96 Points - Antonio Galloni "The 2018 Pinot Noir Harmony Lane is one of the most complete, arrestingly beautiful wines I have ever tasted from Anthill Farms. Dark, rich and unctuous, the 2018 possesses notable depth and yet it remains translucent, nuanced and super-expressive. The 50% whole clusters are not especially evident. Lavender, mint and blue/purplish fruit infuse this exquisitely layered, inviting Pinot."
£48.50 per bottle
our last 6 bottles
Anthill Farms Baker Ranch Pinot Noir 2018
94-96 Points - Antonio Galloni "The 2018 Pinot Noir Baker Ranch is another stellar wine in this range from Anthill Farms. Exotic spice, star anise, blood orange, mint, incense, and succulent red cherry notes all run through the 2018. Deep, dense and creamy, with tremendous fruit richness, the Baker Ranch is vivid and wonderfully complete."
Anthill Farms Hawk Hill Pinot Noir 2018
93-95 points - Antonio Galloni "The 2018 Pinot Noir Hawk Hill is one of the more refined wines in this range. Crushed flowers, sweet red berries, mint, chalk and blood orange give this mid-weight Pinot striking aromatic presence. Understated, vibrant and classy, the 2018 is so finessed and so sculpted. It is one of my favorites in this range.