Peter Michael’s New 2021 Releases

USA, California, Sonoma County & Napa Valley

Peter Michael’s New 2021 Releases

In May this year, I tasted this year’s 2021 Peter Michael releases at the winery with winemaker Robert Fiore. We also looked at the bottled 2020s, which I tasted last year from barrel. Talk about two very different growing seasons!


As a reminder, in 2020, Sonoma had abundant rain in May and June. The late spring rains affected bloom, so the fruit set was small. It was generally a cooler growing season in Knights Valley, except for the dramatic heat spikes in August and early September, especially over Labor Day weekend. The first block of Chardonnay came in on August 19, and the last block came in at the end of September. Some fruit was harvested just after the Glass Fire broke out on September 27. 

“We tried to make a Cuvee Indigene in 2020, but the crops and amounts were so small that we decided not to make this cuvee,” said Fiore. “There is also no Point Rouge this year.”

"Yields in 2020 are down more than 20% on an average year."

The 2020 Peter Michael Chardonnays are richer and flamboyant compared to the 2019s or 2021s, with slightly more weight and texture. Decadently spicy with an alluring oiliness, these wines will satisfy your mood for hedonic whites. 

“We made the 2020 Pinot Noirs but chose not to bottle them,” said Fiore, referring to the impact of smoke taint. “We declassified about 40% of the harvest for the Bordeaux varieties.”

In 2021, a thankfully wildfire-free year, yields remained on the low side at Peter Michael due to poor fruit set. “It was a long, steady ripening period for the Chardonnays and Pinots,” commented Fiore on the vintage. “And it was a moderate growing season for the Pinots (in terms of temperature). The wines are concentrated and expressive.”

I love the vibrancy and freshness of the Peter Michael 2021s.

These are wines with that sense of effortless harmony that comes with a smooth-sailing growing season. For those that like their Chardonnays and Pinots with a bit of cellar age, these 2021s should develop slowly and gracefully. 

The next Peter Michael offer is due in July 2023.

An Overview of the Peter Michael Vineyards & Labels

La Carriere - Chardonnay

La Carriere is situated at around 1200-1700 feet with a rocky, shallow, volcanic soil that gives low fertility and among the lowest yields of all the Peter Michael vineyards. Planted in 1994, the vineyard is composed of See, Dijon, and Hyde (Old Wente) clone selections.


Mon Plaisir - Chardonnay

At an elevation of 1700-1800 feet on a fully sun-exposed, southeast-facing slope of the Knights Valley, Mon Plaisir is sourced from 20+-year-old Old Wente clone selection vines.


Belle Côte - Chardonnay

On an eastern-facing slope in the Knights Valley, Belle Côte is at 1700-1800 feet and features white, dusty soil. This vineyard is the latest of the Peter Michael Chardonnay vineyards to ripen each year. The site is planted mainly to Old Wente and See clone selections with a little Rued clone. Planted in 1990, these are the oldest Chardonnay vines on the estate.


Ma Belle Fille - Chardonnay

Located in Knights Valley, Ma Belle Fille is the highest of the Peter Michael vineyards, perched at 1700-1900 feet. The rocky, volcanic soils are planted to a field selection of Hudson, Old Wente, Montrachet, and Calera clones. Planted in 1999, it is the earliest ripening of the Peter Michael vineyards.


Cuvee Indigene - Chardonnay

Cuvee Indigene is a top-barrel selection of the Belle Côte vineyard, usually with some fruit from Ma Belle Fille and Mon Plaisir. Winemaking consultant Luc Morlet mentioned that this label is intended to capture the richer side of Chardonnay in each vintage, emphasized by the majority use of Old Wente clone. No Cuvee Indigene was made in 2020.


Point Rouge - Chardonnay

Point Rouge is composed of the best barrels of Chardonnay from the entire estate. No Point Rouge was made in 2020.

Seaview Estate – Pinot Noir

Located in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA on the Sonoma County coastline, Peter Michael’s Seaview Estate is perched at 1000-1500 feet on the first ridgeline from the coast. Planted in 2006, the soils are a real mix of volcanic, clay, and rocky/alluvial sediments. The Seaview Estate is the source of the Le Caprice, Ma Danseuse, and Clos de Ciel labels, which come from specific blocks. Clos de Ciel is furthest to the south and warmer and sunnier. Ma Danseuse comes from the coolest, most northern section, possessing more maritime influence. Le Caprice is located on the steepest slope with less maritime exposure.


Les Pavots – Bordeaux Varieties

Among the original Knights Valley plantings dating back to 1989, Les Parvots is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sémillon. Located at 900-1400 feet, this is a warmer site with southern exposure. It is generally composed of rocky volcanic-origin Rhyolite-based soils. Labels coming from here include the Les Pavots and L’Esprit des Pavots red wines as well as L’Apres Midi, which is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (1/3 is Musque clone) and a little Sémillon.


Pisoni Vineyard – Pinot Noir

Peter Michael sources fruit from a 4.5-acre section of Pisoni Vineyard in Santa Lucia Highlands (Monterey County), making their Le Moulin Rouge label. This section is located at 1300 feet, mainly composed of decomposed granite. It was planted in 1991 to a Vosne Romanée clone. The specific vineyard blocks dedicated to Peter Michael wines are farmed to their specifications.


Au Paradis – Bordeaux Red Varieties

Au Paradis vineyard is composed of the red, rocky, volcanic soils common to parts of Pritchard Hill. This makes sense since it is in the Oakville foothills, below Continuum, and above Dalla Valle. Planted in 1984 and 2007, the varieties here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

Article & Reviews by Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
Photography by Johan Berglund