The Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019 is a wine from Charlie Wagner, a part of Wagner Family Wines, including Caymus Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, Conundrum wines Mer Soleil Chardonnay, and a younger son Joe Wagner founded Meiomi Pinot Noir that was recently sold for a staggering amount. The Wagner family has been in California wine since 1906, and branches of the family go back to the 1850s.
Charlie Wagner is also the winemaker for Mer Soleil wines (Mer Soleil is French for Sea Sun). Mer Soleil specialized in Chardonnay and was started in 1988. Sea Sun is a recent project, with 2018 being the first vintage. The Wagners are a winemaking family, and the daughter, Jenny, makes Emmolo Merlot and Sauv Blanc. The vineyards are mainly located in Monterey County (94%), 3% from San Luis Obispo County (Paso Robles), and the final 3% sourced from Solano County AVA.
Solano County is southeast of Napa County and is near the San Pablo Bay so it has a cool growing climate. It is a part of the greater North Coast AVA that encompasses Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, and Lake County.
While the father, Chuck Wagner, made his name with Cabernet Sauvignon, the kids found success with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019 is sourced from top-notch coastal vineyards. With Wagner’s years of success, it is not hard to find exceptional vineyards that want to supply grapes.
Newer or start-up wine operations may find it difficult to source the best grapes; you need to prove yourself without a track record. That is one thing that will not be an issue for Wagner Family Wines; they are very capable of finding the right vineyard partners.
The notes provided for the Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019 are mostly tasting notes, detailed bay lacking in technical information. The three AVAs that supplied the grapes were carefully chosen to provide a subtle difference that will blend well. The wine was aged in new and neutral French barrels for 10 months.
I asked a winemaker about why they used neutral oak barrels since, by definition, it no longer has any flavor to impart into the wine. The answer was that neutral barrels still add something to the wine that is different than stainless steel tanks or cement vats. It does not add flavor, but it is still a tool to use.
The Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019 should have a little more weight on the palate than a classic Pinot Noir since the alcohol content is 14.2%. So, this figures to be a modern take on Pinot Noir and may well be a wine that Meiomi Pinot drinkers should seek out.
Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019 Tasting Notes
The color is a see-thru raspberry red with some black highlights. The nose is excellent, rich, and expressive, maybe not particularly Pinot Noir-like, but very satisfying. There are scents of ripe black cherry, toasted vanilla, lightly smokey, black pepper, soft spice, light herbs, tea, and chocolate cookies baking.
The Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019 is smooth and silky on the palate; the flavors are smooth and rough, a tasty combination. It tastes like a mix of chocolate powder and tart cherry, followed by exotic, slightly rough-edged spice, ripe plum, non-sweet Dr. Pepper, and black pepper.
The mid-palate brings blackberry, a salty sensation, a quick slap of sharp spice, a touch of cream, and rounded cranberry. The tannins stay out of the way, and the acidity does its job well, the flavors have time to unfold, and the acidity does not bite.
I am someone who prefers the classic style of California Pinot Noir. A light-bodied wine with ethereal, feathery flavors, wines that you have to pay attention to to enjoy properly. The Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019 is not that Pinot Noir, but I think it is great. I am coming from the other side of Pinot Noir, and the Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019 speaks to me. I strongly recommend this wine; it is a bang-for-the-buck Pinot Noir. I found it on sale for $16 and to drinks well beyond that price.
- I think I just summarized the Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019 in the last paragraph.
- It may not be classic Pinot Noir, but if you are a fan of California Red wine, the Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019 should be on your list.