Thursday, July 11, 2013

Still Naked, Still Peppy -- The Return of Pepi Wines

Summertime sippers. Got to have them.

A pair of samples from Pepi Wines showed up not long ago. Astute readers of the Vine may remember that I wrote a review on Pepi’s 2011 vintage last year. I’m certainly not one to shy away from repeat performances. You know……quality control purposes.

Pepi, taglined as “A True California Original,” makes whites only. They do a chardonnay, a pinot grigio, a sauvignon blanc, and a blend of chenin blanc & viognier. The grapes for these wines are sourced from all over California – largely from cool-climate areas in the state. According to their trade info, Pepi was one of the first wines in California to be bottled with a Stelvin closure, better known as a quality screwcap. (I am a long-time unabashed fan of Stelvined-up wines, as many of you know.) 

Pepi wines generally retail for right around $10. I had a bottle each of the pinot grigio and the sauvignon blanc. How'd they fare?

Pepi 2012 Pinot Grigio – As with many California pinot grigios, this bottle makes a very pleasant summertime picnic selection. I found the Pepi to have a more pronounced bouquet than many inexpensive pinot grigios. The nose is full of apple blossoms and lemons. On the palate, it was more full-bodied than I expected. It’s almost a little “glyceriney” on the tongue, but I didn’t find that necessarily to be a bad thing. The flavor is crisp and lemony, although the tartness does turn slightly sour towards the lingering finish. It’s easy to sip on its own, but I would prefer it with food. It would be good with almost any light meal, especially if were seeking a wine pairing for a vinaigrette-dressed salad that has a little bit of fruit in it. Pepi recommends a Cajun-flavored shrimp, fish, corn and sausage skillet, which I could certainly see working.

Pepi 2012 Sauvignon Blanc – The Sweet Partner in Crime and I were putting together a dinner of steamed mussels with chorizo and white beans. The recipe we were pulling from suggested a “fruity, California sauvignon blanc.” How convenient that we had the second bottle of Pepi for pairing purposes. This is a much more balanced wine than the price point implies. The nose is full of pineapple and green apple. The body is fruity and citrusy, and the acidity never really becomes sharp – even through the lingering, citrusy finish. Alongside the mussels, the wine was a champ. I thought it handled the savory, spicy, and herbal flavors without getting rolled. We agreed this is a nice, flexible “keep around for your summertime needs” bottle.

Bottom line – after peeking back at my review from last year, Pepi has done a good job keeping these wines consistent from vintage to vintage. If you’ve tried them in the past and liked them, you won’t find any surprises. If you haven’t tried them, I’d recommend the sauvignon blanc for a tenner. 

(Thanks to Stacey at Balzac for the samples.)

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