Ceritas is continually one of our go-to favorites for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in all of California. The wine sells out instantly on their mailing list and a few lucky retailers (AWCO!) are lucky to secure small quantities. Unfortunately, this year’s allocation was slim.
Owners John and Phoebe Raytek’s belief in the fruit drives their commitment to growers and vineyard sites. Together, they spend much of the year listening, learning, and reﬁning what they know about the vineyards to allow each area to express itself fully. They spend far more time in the vineyard than the winery, tending to inordinately speciﬁc details of each vine. Once harvest is complete, they trust that the fruit has seen its path and believe responsibility is not to obscure it by the signature of specific winemaking methods.
Trout Gulch sits in a narrow slot canyon due east from the sleepy town of Aptos in the Southern Santa Cruz Mountains. The vineyard’s proximity (less than 3 miles) from the Pacific Ocean makes this their coldest Chardonnay site. Acids are high here and the addition of a small amount of new oak gives the wine some additional depth. Fabulous energy and tension drive a core of crushed rocks, Meyer lemon, freshly cut hay, and white stone fruits with a powerful acidic structure that pushes flavors of dried honey, ginger, and oyster shell. Think New World Premier Cru Chablis.
Peter Martin Ray is one of the first Chardonnay vineyards to be planted in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Perched high above the valley floors, the grapes see more sunshine than their other sites, resulting in thicker skins which bring a savory note to the wine, reminiscent of the great Burgundies from Puligny Montrachet. There is an intense bouquet of lemon peel, mint and grilled almonds, while the palate is beautifully balanced with a line of acidity, powerful but quite elegant. The wine finishes with notes of orange, kaffir lime, and crushed rocks. One of the best wines they have made to date from this site.
Cuvée Annabelle, named after one of their twin daughters, is sourced from the Kings Ridge Vineyard owned by the notable Red Car winery.
Small tight clusters of Pinot Noir result in a wine of great depth and concentration while retaining the acidity typical of this area. Dark red fruit, blood orange, and exotic spices explode out of the glass. On the palate flavors of lavender, rose petal, and cardamom infuse the wine.
The Occidental Vineyard is smack dab in the middle of the West Sonoma Coast’s Grand Cru belt. Neighboring vineyards include Theriot, Summa, and Que. This site is perfect for growing Pinot Noir. This wine provides the most impressive intensity of all the Ceritas Pinot Noirs. The palate is filled with great salinity and flavors of blackberry and wild strawberry. This is a profound example of West Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.