PerUS; an exploration of ethos and quality

Bold and pure with velvety tannins. I asked Katya Kurtbek (Director of Sales and Marketing) to describe PerUS in a few words as possible. After tasting through their 2017 vintage, I can confirm that she hit the nail on the head. This small-production, quality-focused Napa winery is a star in the making. We spent the afternoon with Tatiana Livesey (Brand Ambassador) getting to grips with PerUS …

There are few more fitting settings in which to explore wine than at a table in a idyllic Surrey home, with delicious locally-sourced food and like-minded friends. I first tasted PerUS in Hedonism in December of last year and left a relatively flattering review on Vivino, the theme of which was that I was taken aback by the purity of Kyla 2016. At this point I knew very little about PerUS and absolutely nothing about its owner, it’s winemaker or it’s ethos. Fast-forward almost a year and my good friend Tatiana is now working with PerUS to share these wines with wine-lovers worldwide.

There are a plethora of outstanding wineries in Napa (over 400 wineries in total) just a few weeks ago I attended the Napa Vintners ‘Perspective on Vintage’ tasting at 67PM where I experienced a range of arguably some of the best wines in the world. Anmol Bhandari (PerUS founder) has, as a result of robust truisms and vision, pooled together a group of individuals who together have brought to fruition, in what is an intensely competitive region, a highly-priced, quality-driven sellout range of wines.

PerUS glassware by Sophienwald Glas

Anmol wasn’t born in Napa, or in the United States for that matter. His journey there has been broad and international. He was born and raised in New Delhi, later immigrating to the United States and building a successful career in finance, working first at Goldman Sachs and later co-founding a company that provides research and analytical support to international financial institutions.

Anmol was introduced to Dustin Wilson MS (you may know him, as I do, from the SOMM movies) while Dustin was working at Eleven Madison Park (before opening Verve) It took Anmol some time to convince Dustin that he was more than just a venture capitalist and that his vision was worth further exploration. Eventually, Anmol and Dustin traveled to Napa Valley, they toured vineyards and met with select winemakers. During one of these trips, Dustin introduced Anmol to winemaker, Russell Bevan. 

Tatiana and Katya describe Russell as an outgoing and eclectic character, a decisive master blender who leads by taste. His journey embodies these sentiments. He earned his Masters in Philosophy from Gonzaga University, worked in Minneapolis selling dental equipment, wrote a syndicated column which was published in the Wine Spectator and then became a self-taught winemaker with his first vintage in 2005; pretty impressive, right?

In addition to owning the 41-acre Saunders Vineyard in Oakville, Russell also works with a number of other stand-out vineyards in Napa Valley. Amongst these vineyards is Tench, whose border fence neighbours the vineyards of the iconic Screaming Eagle. Regardless of the site, owned or not, Russell insists that he must maintain full control of the farming practices. His style of vineyard management and wine-making is contemporary and forward-thinking, he has certainly brought his own style to Napa Valley.

Fruit for PerUS, which is now managed on-site at their state-of-the art Tench Winery, is sourced from Tench, a 42 acre site planted primarily with Cabernet clones 4 and 7, with some Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. Sugarloaf Mountain, an almost 700 acre (one of Napa’s largest) rocky site planted mainly with Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and the newly acquired Sage Ridge vineyard which is planted primarily with Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Tench vineyard sits at the western base of the Vaca Mountains, an area created by a landslide thousands of years ago. It’s red rocky soils of clay and volcanic rock produce Napa Valley Cabernets of great focus and intensity. The Sugarloaf Mountain site is blessed with a rocky, upland terrain with a micro-climate tempered by cool winds and even traces of fog. This climate supports a longer hang time, which contributes toward the development of the velvety tannins which formed part of Katya’s synopsis of the PerUS style.

Perhaps most interesting is that a number of premium winemakers were previously offered, but rejected, fruit from several sites from which Russell now makes PerUS. Russell’s vision and ability to adapt mean that he has been able to adjust his approach, adopting aggressive canopy management around the fruit zone (achieving more direct sunlight and air flow) and create these well-structured wines from these ‘rejected’ sites.

During the afternoon we tasted Veena (taking it’s name from Anmols mother) PerUS’ Sauvignon Blanc project which was balanced, smokey, concentrated and showed a hint of spice. Bryn (new for 2017) PerUS ‘entry level’ wine, good character for what is at the lower end of PerUS’ price scale, the wine showed heaps of black cherry and blueberry with a sumptuous palate. Kyla (my second experience with this wine) is a good performer; a touch of floral aromas, tobacco leaf and developed tannins (perhaps helped along by exceptional use of Sylvain French oak barrels) Janeen, PerUS’ showcase of Sage Ridge, was again well-structured and bold with distinctly ripe fruit. Finally, Armaan, PerUS’ showcase; jam-packed with punch, focused cherry and plum, ground coffee and blueberry, the wine has great ageing potential.

Since their first vintage PerUS have slowly increased production, they have a planned cap at which they will no longer expand , a cap which exists in order to ensure a firm control of their vineyards, production and ultimately quality. This was a unique opportunity to explore PerUS in great detail, thank you to Tatiana, Katya, Sophienwald for the amazing glassware and the PerUS team for organising this fabulous experience, I am excited to be a part of your journey.

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