March 08, 2022 by Arden Montgomery
Meet the Maker: No Name Wines
Just two hours north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara County is home to one of the most southerly “cool climate” wine regions in the Northern Hemisphere. One of our favorite places to source wine from. The transverse mountain ranges act as a funnel to usher in cold air, marine layer fog, and wind; all desirable climate traits for making phenomenal Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Days here are filled with sunny skies and fluffy clouds, and the nights are cold with incoming fog. Vines are planted on ancient marine soils from the pacific that give the wines a very distinct flavor profile and minerality.
I came to Marc with this project a few years ago, wanting to bring a very specific product to our consumers. I wanted Marc to be behind the brand because not only do I have confidence in his winemaking style, but I also love the vineyards he is sourcing from. Marc has walked us through the vineyard sites for each of these wines, really giving us an intimate experience on where these grapes are coming from.
The story behind the No Name project came from a desire to source something that we couldn’t find elsewhere, and Marc really brought it home for us with this Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The label design was an inspiration from our four faces behind Argaux, and the “No Name” name being a representation of the teamwork behind our brand as a whole.
Once things were in motion, Marc invited us up to the winery to be a part of the blending for the Pinot Noir. We tasted barrel samples from several different vineyard sites, and created the final blend based on the different qualities that each site had that ultimately complimented each other. This experience really made us feel like we are a part of every bottle made.
Marc Piro knew he wanted to be a winemaker when he was nine years old. He sat in the crowded backseat of his family’s beige Mercedes diesel station wagon as they drove through the vineyards of Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. Inspired, he announced, “Mom, I want a vineyard.” Her response was curt: “Well, then, get a good job.”
Marc grew up in Marin County and visited Santa Barbara for the first time when he was fifteen. From that moment on he knew he wanted to end up there. True to his boyhood promise, Marc fulfilled his dream by launching Piro Wine Company, a boutique label focused on his favorite varietal, Pinot Noir. As he puts it, “I strive to make old world style wines from the new world: extremely delicious wines of balance, elegance, and structure.”
Some Fun Facts About Marc:
- Marc is an avid surfer
- Marc has two young kiddos, a two year old named Layla and a 6 month old named Charles. Layla is already hitting the waves with dad
- Played bass in a reggae band
- Has visited the two longest piers in the Southern Hemisphere
- Practices Sustainable Farming
- Marc is an avid collector of birth year wines, and loves to share them
“I make wine because wine inspires cheer. It makes me happy to make others happy (and drunk).”
“The quality of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the area is some of the best in the world. We sit down for lunch every day at the winery and open up Pinot from all over the world and taste it next to our own. The Santa Barbara Pinot is a top contender every time.”
“With acidity comes balance.”
Lightening Round Q&A:
- What is your greatest extravagance? Guitars.
- What is the quality you like most in a partner? Fun.
- What word or phrase do you overuse? Idk.
- When and where are you happiest? The beach, outside where it’s sunny…or my couch.
- If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Being able to jump really high, like 60 or 100 feet.
- What life achievement are you the most proud of? Making wine for Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch.
- What winemakers do you most admire? Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist, Ernst Storm, Jim Adelman.
- Which historical figure would you want to share a bottle with? Jesus.
- What motto do you live by? Treat yourself, don’t beat yourself.
- Best wine you’ve ever tasted? 1982 Pichon Lalande.
- What is your spirit animal? Dolphin.
- How do you relax/decompress? I have a beer in the sun.
- What do you drink when you’re not drinking wine? Cold beer!
- Soundtrack to your life: Never Give Up.
About the Wines:
Chardonnay: On the nose, it’s vibrant with aromas of yellow apple, wet stone, backing spices and lemon zest. It’s zippy yet round & silky on the palate. Lightly buttered with hints of coconut and vanilla, finishing with flavors of ripe pear. Note: If you like Rombauer Chardonnay, you will like the No Name Chardonnay. It’s rich and flavorful without being overpowering, and introduces that slightly higher acid level from the cooler climate in Santa Barbara.
Pinot Noir: This Pinot is perfectly balanced, it’s Volnay-like, full of ripe cranberry and cherry flavors met with black tea and cacao. Blueberry and cola complement each other nicely as it finishes with slate-like minerality and soft, smooth tannins. Note: If you like Bourgogne Rouge, you will like the No Name Pinot Noir. It’s vibrant, fruit forward, complex, with a great mouth feel.
Some of Marc’s favorite wines from the shop (other than No Name) are:
Domaine de Semelles Châteauneuf du Pape
Domaine Rougeot Clos des 6 Ouvrées
- The Chardonnay pairs great with winter squash soup, white chicken chili, and Mexican dishes.
- The Pinot Noir pairs great with rotisserie chicken, vegetables on the grill, and mushroom risotto.
Speaking of food…
At Au Bon Climat, Jim Clendenon held a tradition of making a huge lunch for the winemakers and staff every single day. After his sad passing just under a year ago, Marc and his team still uphold this tradition and sit down for lunch daily. They open up great wines that spark great conversation, while enjoying each others’ company.
There is something special about this; I think I can speak for many working professionals who barely take time for lunch during the work day including myself. The act of sitting down and enjoying the food and wine in front of you in such a ceremonias way is pretty beautiful. It goes back to the center of our ethos here at Argaux, wine is a catalyst that brings you to the table and forces you to sit down, take a breath, and soak up the present moment.