WP: What makes Patiné such a unique Pinot?
Susie: It’s balanced.
Jim: As a person who learned on Burgundy, I have the utmost respect for Burgundy, but we live in California. Patiné is a true California Pinot.
Dean: Mike Smith wines are full of life. The wines sparkle which is a testament to his dedication to how well these handcrafted wines are made. Patiné wines have a Mike Smith signature mid-palate structure and a long finish which opens the door of Pinot Noir to Cabernet lovers.
WP: Describe each Patiné in one word (spoiler, we weren’t real strict about the one word rule):
Soberanes- Dean: Grace.
For our second spotlight this month, we decided to feature both a person (people actually) and the thing of which they are associated with. In this case, it is one of our favorite Pinots, Patiné (pronounced pa-tee-nay).
If you aren't a hockey fan, the name Jim Fox may not mean anything thing to you......and that's okay, because it's not important to Jim if you know that he was a former player on, and the current TV color commentator for, the Los Angeles Kings. What is important to him is that you know his wine, Patiné.
Patiné, which means to have skated, in French; an act that requires power, balance, and grace. A perfect name for this wine, in our opinion, because it is a very big Pinot Noir, yet very smooth. Patiné Cellars currently only offers Pinot, although they offer it from three different vineyards: Gap's Crown; Sun Chase; and new for this year, Soberanes.
During a recent Kings game, we had the pleasure of getting to interview Jim; his lovely wife, Susie, who aside from being a co-founder, oversees all aspects of accounting for Patiné Cellars; and Patiné's other co-founder, Dean Nucich, who is responsible for the day-to-day business operations of the company. They had just finished up a Patiné wine pairing dinner at the Lexus Club in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which unfortunately, we did not partake in due to a scheduling conflict (we do actually have day jobs). We spoke with all three of them individually, and I’m really glad that it worked out that way because it was interesting to hear their different, and not so different, answers to the same questions.
Here’s how it went down:
WP: Jim, what is it that makes Sun Chase intriguing?
Jim: There is so much going on, but all in a very subtle way. Mike has been helping me to break down this wine, but the intrigue is absolutely fascinating to me. I look forward to the challenge that Sun Chase brings to me, and I am really caught up in how much is going on, yet I am amazed at how it all comes together.
WP: Why the addition of Soberanes vs. another varietal?
Susie: Pisoni grapes. Being a fan of the Pisoni Vineyards, we were excited that Mike could get some grapes from them. It’s a more southern region, Santa Lucia Highlands, and has a different palate.
Gap's Crown- Dean: Power.
Susie: Steak lovers Pinot.
Jim: Concentrated Pinot.
Nicole, Susie, and Michael.
THIS JUST IN! We are thrilled to take this opportunity to share with you the results of Robert Parker's tasting of the 2013 PATINÉ portfolio as recently published in the March 2016 (#223) issue of The Wine Advocate.
WP: Gap's Crown was Patiné's first Pinot- how would you say it has evolved over its three vintages?
WP: Who came up with the "puck" around the bottle?
Susie: We had a designer help us. We had quite a few to choose from. In fact, one that we were considering was a fox hidden inside a wine leaf. But the way the bottle looked with the hockey puck was so elegant, almost like the bottle was wearing a tuxedo. We were really drawn to it. (Editor's note: Jim, Susie, and Dean personally participate in putting these on the bottles by hand).
WP: Which Patiné would you suggest to someone who’s never tried any of your wines?
Susie: Sun Chase, because it's the most approachable.
Jim: That is a difficult question to answer since I don’t have any more information about the person making the inquiry. We are very proud of the fact that we are producing 3 single-vineyard designate Pinot Noirs and that each wine brings its own character. I would tell the person that we hand craft wines that offer many different characteristics. We put a lot of thought and research into the selection of our vineyards so that each wine offers the core elements behind the brand of Patiné which are Power, Grace and Balance!
Dean: All three. Each wine offers an expression of the vineyard from which they are sourced.
Dean: I took time out of my real estate development career to go work harvest with Mike (Mike Smith, Patiné's winemaker) in 2009, 2010, 2011. He had just picked up Carter Cellars as a client and needed some help.
Nicole, Jim, and Michael.
WP: In general, how long do you prefer a wine to age?
Susie: If it’s good, drink it. Of course some wines definitely can improve with age, but life’s too short. Decant it for a bit, then enjoy.
Jim: Our philosophy at Patiné is to release our wines after one year of bottle aging. Each individual vineyard and vintage will produce a different result regarding the aging potential of the wine. Mike Smith’s wines can not only be served young due to the fruit concentration that Mike’s wines are known for, but also will age beautifully as the wines get even better with time given the structure he creates in the wines.
Dean: Patience always reaps rewards with wine. Ageability of the wine depends on the varietal, quality of the vineyard and the style in which it is made. Patiné wines should peak around 5 years.
If you’ve never tried Patiné, we highly recommend it. It’s a big pinot that also has such elegance to it. It’s not easy to find; they are a small production mom and pop shop at the moment, but it’s definitely worth the effort to find it. You can also go to the Patiné website (www.patinecellars.com) to sign up on their mailing list. Nicole's favorite (currently) is the Soberanes, and Michael's is the Gap's Crown. We had the opportunity to do a tasting with all three, and they were all amazing in their own ways, and nothing short of phenomenal! Balanced and big, California Pinots.
A big thank you to Dean, Jim, and Susie. They couldn’t have been any more friendly or passionate when speaking with us. It was an honor!
2011- Cab like.
2012- Spicy.... barrel spice.
2013- Flawless structure.
WP: Why Pinot?
Susie: It’s our favorite red.
Jim: We wanted to make Pinot. It might have made more sense to start with a white- most wineries start with a white, but we wanted to make Pinot.
Dean: My friendship with Mike and Jimmy’s passion for Pinot really drove us in that direction. Mike was very busy with Cabernet projects. Pinot ripens earlier than Cabernet so I finally convinced Mike Smith to take on his first Pinot Noir project as he could fit it into the Crush cycle. Mike is such a great winemaker, I really wanted to see what he could do with Pinot as it is considered the most delicate, temperamental and challenging varietal to work with from a winemaker’s perspective.
WP: Any future plans for another varietal?
Jim and Susie: Both agreed Chardonnay. Chardonnay is one of Jim’s favorite wine varietal.
WP: Any future plans for large format bottles?
Jim and Susie: If we can figure out the label and bottle, yes. (The textured label would definitely be an issue on a magnum). We have already had several requests and inquiries about doing this.
WP: What’s your favorite food pairing with Patiné?
Susie: Steak and Gap’s Crown is definitely a staple. Off the menu we had tonight, I would say the Sun Chase with venison.
Jim: From tonight’s dinner, definitely the Soberanes with the Crusted Pork Belly and Prosciutto Wrapped Rabbit Loin. [YUM!]
Dean: Any food pairing! Particularly, I like Prime Rib, Duck, or a great Mushroom soup.
Sun Chase- Dean: Balance.
Susie: Classic Pinot.
Pursuing my own passion with wine with the goal of starting my own label,
I had met Jimmy at the beach. We drank great wine together and he told me how he had been looking at vineyards with an investor to purchase for quite a few years.
I wrote the business plan and educated him on the shift of the industry to Custom Crush and starting a label as opposed to acquiring a winery. With his strengths in marketing, and my business background, coupled with my relationships in the Valley, I thought the partnership could be a good fit.
WP: Did you by any chance drink Patiné from the Stanley Cup?
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