You know the old adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”? While it’s really difficult not to do so, the same thing can be said of wine.
Left Coast Cellars whimsical and quirky label would lead you to believe that this is an ordinary $12 bottle of wine. But the wine is not ordinary, and it’s also not $12.
I recently had a chance to talk wine (and a lot of other topics) with Left Coast Cellars winemaker, Luke McCollom. We went to dinner at a fabulous french cuisine restaurant in Phoenix called Coup des Tartes. The main reason for choosing the restaurant was they allow you to bring your own wine (for a fee). We sat in a back room next to the fire place and tasted through a series of wines paired with exceptional food. We dined, sipped and talked for two and half hours and I really got a great sense of who Luke is and what Left Coast Cellars is.
Luke is a very young looking fellow. He’s 37 years old, but he has some serious wine experience. His experience in the wine business started in his early teens and led to attaining a Bachelor of Science in fruit science and a minor in wine and viticulture from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Luke’s wine experience includes some ridiculously valuable time at Napa Valley’s Harlan Estate. If you don’t know Harlan, seriously you should. Luke joined Left Coast Cellars back in 2003 and has really created something special there.
Luke’s passion is wine. From our conversation, it’s obvious. But not just wine. Vineyard management as well. These days most wine making operations have specialized people working for them. They have wine makers, they have vineyard managers. There are not a lot of people that can do both and do both well. Tasting the wines, I would say Luke is the exception to that rule. Even though he comes across as an easy going mellow guy, he takes the wine business extremely seriously. He is on a mission. A mission for excellence. I’d say with the wines we tasted, he’s there already.
In this article I’m going to focus on two of his white wines. The first is the Left Coast Cellars 2014 Truffle Hill Chardonnay. This wine is 100% Chardonnay aged for 9 months in 66% French oak (25% new) and 33% in stainless steel. This wine right out of the gate comes across crisp and laser focused. Very well structured, and not at all flabby (not that I thought it would be). This is not a buttery or vanilla flavored Chardonnay, so if you like that style of wine this is not the wine for you. If you like a more old world style with crisp clean acidity, and purity of fruit, not over oaked and not too high alcohol this is the wine for you. Alcohol weighs in at 13.8% on this wine. The Truffle hill block has only 5 acres planted to Chardonnay, so this is a very small production wine, order it before it runs out and it will run out soon. This is a serious, fantastic wine and a great deal at $24.
Weekly Wine Journal Rating: 90 points
The second wine for review is Left Coast Cellars 2014 Pinot Gris from The Orchard block. This wine is equally serious. Aged for 4 months in 100% stainless steel this 100% Pinot Gris comes right out at you with an extremely crisp smack in the mouth. But it’s gentle, not a monster. Dominated by green apple and minerality, there are some pear notes in the back end as well. There are 7.4 acres of Pinot Gris planted to the Orchards block, again a very small production wine and at only $18 a bottle this is a ridiculous deal. Weekly Wine Journal Rating: 90 points
Look for the unusual label, don’t be fooled by it. While these are seriously well made wines, they’re not snobby. Luke is a down to earth honest guy who really is a master of his craft. He’s committed to sustainable practices and building a legacy of great wine. I would be surprised if I didn’t see some major accolades from major publications in the next several months.