90 points- Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
One of the great things about California is the diversity of the viticultural areas, both in terms of varied micro-climates, and also geographically, with vineyards up and down the coast. This means that in a year like 2008, in which frost and smoke from forest fires resulted in a trying vintage for the North Coast, there are areas like the Sta. Rita Hills to the south that experienced a much better growing season. As always, our friends at Fess Parker made the most of the vintage and created several stunning wines. We were lucky enough to secure a small allocation of the just-released Clone 115 Pinot Noir, and our excited to share it with you this week. Pinot Noir clones are a science unto themselves, so we won’t go into too much detail, but we will say that while clones are often blended together to make a more complete wine, 115 is known for performing well in a single clone wine, and this one shows why, as it has plenty of complexity on its own.
The 2008 Fess Parker Clone 115 Pinot Noir is dark ruby in color, with spicy nose of black cherry, raspberry, and violets. The palate shows flavors classic to Pinot Noir like cherry and cola, and boysenberry and fresh flowers, typical of this growing region. Slightly lighter than usual thanks to the cooler vintage, this still has plenty of body, good acidity and a long finish with lively, spicy red fruit flavors. As this opens up, it puts on more weight and gains layers of complexity, suggesting that it should improve for several years in the cellar, and we would recommend decanting this wine for about an hour before serving to bring out this depth. Serve this with grilled rib-eye, and you’ll remember why you fell in love with red wine and steak!
When Fess Parker was cast in the roll of Davy Crockett in the mid-1950’s, it caused an international sensation and changed his life forever. So too did the purchase of 714 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley change the course of the Parker family’s history.
Realizing the potential of Santa Barbara County as a premium grape-growing region, Fess and his son, Eli, originally set out in 1989 to plant a small vineyard and sell fruit to local producers. But, as Fess’ daughter, Ashley explains, “ Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small. “The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard now farms almost 700 acres on four vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County.
The characters Fess portrayed, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, inspired generations of Americans. Throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s Fess was at the pinnacle of a television career that has an unprecedented impact upon American popular culture. But is was Fess’ entrepreneurial spirit that prompted his leaving Hollywood to go into business for himself. The traits that Crockett and Boone embodied - integrity, resourcefulness and good humor -- L-R Tim Snider, Fess Parker, Ashley Parker Snider, Eli Parkercarried over to Fess’ personal life and formed the foundation upon which the family business was built. First-class hospitality has always been at the core of their ventures, first as hoteliers and eventually with the opening of the winery.
Working as a family has always been a great source of pride and pleasure for the Parker family. Eli Parker began in the family business as assistant winemaker in 1989. After several years of learning the craft at the side of renowned and accomplished winemakers, Eli took the reigns as winemaker himself with the 1995 vintage. A leader of the winery since it’s inception, it was in 1996 that Eli formally assumed the title and responsibilities of President. In the early 1990’s, Ashley ran the first tastings out of the barrel room and represented the winery at trade shows. In 1998, Ashley became Eli’s partner, working on the public relations and sales and marketing teams. The presence of Fess and his wife Marcy as the founding visionaries of the winery is a vital and enduring one.
More at www.fessparker.com.