Recently, I caught up with iconoclastic winemaker Adam Lee, to see what he’s been up to since transitioning his well-regarded Siduri brand to Jackson Family Wines, for an interview published on the Napa Valley Wine Academy website.
Adam is a great sport and an equally great interviewee, as you’ll no doubt be able to quickly discern when reading the interview. What we didn’t get into in the NVWA piece are the gritty details on one of his new projects, Clarice Wine Company, a brand he named after his grandmother, Clarice H. Phears. Interestingly, Lee’s Clarice project is a wine club of sorts for the brand’s wines, but also an online community capped off at 625 members.
After Adam and I reconnected for the interview, he sent along samples of the Clarice offerings, and I’m now able to tell you that he’s created something L-E-G-I-T…
Lee has been sourcing from Gary’s Vineyard (located just about smack-dab in the middle of the Santa Lucia Highlands) since its inception in the late 1990s. This is a vineyard source that has no shortage of accolades already, but might just be hitting its adulthood stride in full force only now, based on this beauty.
There is sooooooooooooooooooo much going on here. Dark fruit, red berries, bramble, tea leaf, truffle, cedar, and various baking spices to start the nose, with incredibly deep, dark, plummy fruitiness and black raspberry freshness all over the palate. The acidity and tannin are really neck-and-neck here, balancing one another out just as one seems to be slightly overtaking the other at any given moment. Somehow, there’s a harmonious interplay of bramble (and, I mean, a metric ton of different wild herbs) and elegance throughout. It’s a red that has more personality than the entire cast of most TV sitcoms. Yeah, it’s expensive. But it’s worth it. Every. F*cking. Penny.