Capiaux “Chimera” Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2016

capiaux chimera russian river valley pinot noir
California Sonoma County
Pinot Noir
Type: Red Table Wine
Vintage: 2016

“Sean Capiaux, who founded his winery in Sonoma in 1994, also graces these pages as the brilliant winemaker for Betty O’Shaughnessy’s wines from Howell Mountain and Mt. Veeder. All of his Pinot Noirs are unfiltered, fermented with indigenous yeast with malo in barrel, aged sur lie, and rarely handled until they go into bottle. His regime of new oak varies according to the vineyard he’s working with, but it can be as low as 30% or as high as 65%.”

Robert Parker on Capiaux Pinot Noir, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Dec 2016

Since Sean Capiaux (also of O’Shaughnessy) founded Capiaux Cellars in 1994, he has been dedicated to the nuance and expression of the “Holy Grail” grape: Pinot Noir. Capiaux Cellars is dedicated to producing single-vineyard bottlings of Pinot Noir. Chimera, named for the creature of Greek mythology, or to describe anything that brings together disparate parts with dazzling results, stands out. This is Sean’s opportunity to combine fruit from seven vineyards along the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, and Santa Lucia Highlands. The result is a beautiful, nuanced wine.


Sean’s style is a blend of classic and contemporary. He pairs cutting-edge fermentation equipment with traditional Burgundian technique that emphasizes natural, hands-on winemaking. Fruit is hand-sorted as soon as it arrives at the winery. Following a cool soak, all wines are fermented by indigenous yeast and see minimal new oak (rarely more than 33%). The wine ages in barrel for ten to 15 months before bottling, unfined and unfiltered to preserve aroma and flavour.

“This is a stellar set of wines from Sean Capiaux. I found the 2016’s dark and powerful. Capiaux told me yields were down in 2016, as the plants were exhausted after several consecutive years of drought conditions. As for the wines, they are all distinctive and full of character. The 2016 Pinot Noir Chimera is laced with essence of sweet red cherry, underbrush, dried herbs, orange zest and exotic floral notes. Plump and juicy, yet also very much medium in body and gracious, with terrific freshness, the 2016 has much to offer. I would prefer to drink it over the next 7-10 years. A rush of dark red cherry, plum, mocha and licorice infuse the supple, inviting finish. Best of all, the Chimera is a terrific value.”

90 points, Antonio Galloni,, April 2018