Articles Tagged claypool cellars

The Renaturating Three (Backstage With Claypool Cellars 2017)

Vinted on October 25, 2017 binned in crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, wine review
Chaney Claypool backstage 2017

Chaney Claypool shows off the CC wares backstage in Philly (2017)

Being a prog music geek (actually, make that a music geek in general), we’ve had our fair share of literal rock star wine producer interviews here on 1WD, probably none as effortlessly entertaining as those with Primus’ Les Claypool.

Claypool, along with his wife Chaney, are the proprietors of Sonoma-based Claypool Cellars, whose development I’ve been following (and on which I’ve been reporting) for several years.

Pompeo Claypool Roberts

Me, my drummer, & Les Claypool (if you have to guess who is who, then come back when you’re sober)

With the release of the new Primus album The Desaturating Seven  (highly recommended, by the way; think of it as a mix between the group’s older quirky-jam-based writing style, and the showmanship flamboyance of the more recent Primus and the Chocolate Factory) and its subsequent tour, Chaney and Les recently found themselves in Philly. By their invitation, my drummer and I found ourselves at their Philly stop pre-show, tagging along at one of the cooler aspects of Primus’ tour: fans can purchase a premium-VIP package that includes a Q&A session with the band, and (more pertinently in this case) a tasting of some of the recent Claypool Cellars offerings, with Les and Chaney (mostly the gregarious Les) taking questions and waxing philosophic about Sonoma County wines in general.

Since bringing on the Pinot Noir wunderkinder consulting winemaking duo of Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson, Claypool Cellars has gone from promising-and-devoted-side-project to ageworthy-kind-of-cult-wine levels of quality, so for me it’s always a pleasure to catch up with the Claypools and their wines (funky-ass basslines or not). Here are some thoughts on their continued vinous progress (see what I did there…?)…

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Northbound Pachyderm (Tasting Claypool Cellars, Cobb, And LaRue 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinots)

Vinted on November 13, 2014 binned in elegant wines, on the road, wine review

A note to musically-inclined wine people: if you help the nice folks at Claypool Cellars folks pick their consulting winemaker, eventually you’ll get to hang backstage at kick-ass Primus concerts.

And while that might at first sound like a raging conflict of interest, I suppose it’s worth noting that a) that hasn’t stopped me from telling them how I think the wines could be improved, and b) I didn’t charge them any consulting fees (so maybe we’re just about even, actually).

Anyway, long-time 1WD faithful will know that we’ve been following the career of Claypool Cellars (founded by Primus front-man Les Claypool and his wife Chaney, both Sonoma-area residents) with great interest over the years.

And while it might seem strange that a rocker who is performing trippy, virtuosic renditions of music from the 1971 Willy Wonka movie would be attempting to make world-class California Pinot Noir, I can offer this tidbit from Les: “We want it to be like Primus; I mean, we’re goofy, but underneath, it’s pretty serious. We can play.”

[ Editor’s note: for what it’s worth, Les has also told me things such as “have you ever had cannabis wine?” and “hey man, where’s the fanceé booze?!???” ]

I am happy to report that, since picking up Ross Cobb as their consulting winemaker, Claypool Cellars has come closer to achieving their goofy-meets-serious goal, and have in their 2012 releases produced the best wines I’ve yet to taste from them. I recently caught up with Chaney, Ross, and Ross’s winemaker partner Katy Wilson to eat some viddles in Sonoma, and taste through some of their single-vineyard 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinots (yeah, I know, tough life I’ve got here)…

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Whistle-stop Sonoma Wine And Food Tour, British Style (The Guardian’s America Uncovered)

Vinted on May 28, 2013 binned in California wine, going pro

This past weekend, The Guardian (the one “over the pond” in the UK) published my recommendations of wine and food places to hit when driving from Seattle to northern California, as part of their America Uncovered series.

Like 99.9% of all of my other paying gigs, this one found me [ editor’s note: this is not how I’d recommend that you go about any type of freelancing career yourself, by the way; not going out and hustling for work is insanely stupid, and I’m beyond all reasonable standards of lucky that this stuff keeps coming my way ].

Like any publisher with an editing staff, they decided to cut 80% of the piece’s original ideas and mentions and focus instead on a handful of my suggestions, which will explain why [insert your favorite wine and/or food stop in Northern California here] wasn’t included.

What did make the cut are things that I don’t think many of you would have guessed (let’s just say I’d eat my left sneaker if anyone could have figured out the focus of this one prior to its publication). It turned into a Sonoma valentine of sorts: Chalk Hill, Claypool Cellars, and The Girl and The Fig (okay, that last one some of you would have gotten ahead of time). Once again, I’m figuring that Ross Cobb owes me some money (or at the very least, some more Pinot and Chardonnay samples)…

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Bohemian Severity? (Ross Cobb And Claypool Cellars Team Up To Make Serious Sonoma Pinot)

Vinted on May 1, 2012 binned in California wine, wine news

At this point, I think we can agree that Sonoma winemaker Ross Cobb now owes me some money.

Certainly I’ve reviewed and featured a few of his wines here, with quite favorable results – though that’s not, of course, why I think he should be paying me (really, we’ve had enough of that alleged behavior lately, haven’t we?).

No, I think he owes me money because I might have helped seal the deal on his latest gig. Finder’s fee? C’mon, a little slice off the top of that is kind of standard business practice, right?!??

[ Editor’s note: I do not actually think that this guy owes me money. ]

In all seriousness, I’ve been covering the recent trajectory of both Ross’ wines and those of his latest consulting client, Sonoma’s Claypool Cellars – so I’m happy to report that the two are now working together.

During my recent jaunt to Sonoma, I spent a few hours with Chaney Smith Claypool, wife of rocker Les Claypool and the driving force behind their up-and-coming wine venture. The Claypool Cellars wines are quite solid, and very good (in the case of their 2009 Hurst Vineyard “Purple Pachyderm” Pinot, very, very good), and what’s in barrel for their Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is already tasty and sporting a ton of exciting spicy, bright-fruited potential.

Despite the laid-back, bohemian carnival atmosphere of their brand, they make serious juice – and Chaney is serious about taking Claypool Cellars to the next level. One thing she told me stuck with me several days later: “I want a legacy that we can give to the kids… if they’ll take it!” This is coming from someone who’s tasting room is a caboose train car, by the way…

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