The White Meds are the Right Meds

My, how my tastes have changed. A million years ago, when I first started enjoying wine, I thought barrel fermented California Chardonnay was the #*%@. The richness of fruit combined with toasty oak was easy to identify and appreciate for my novice palate. I then discovered Chardonnay from White Burgundy, wines with more subtle fruit and higher acidity (minerals?). Some of these wines were fermented and aged in oak (Puligny Montrachet, Meursault) and some were made in either stainless steel or concrete (Chablis, Pouilly Fuisse, Macon-Villages). What these wines may have lacked in obvious fruit aromas and flavors was more than compensated for by what one would call "terroir." Then someone introduced me to German Riesling and that was it - I was gone. German Riesling had complex aromas and flavors, combined with searingly high levels of acidity (more minerals) that were uniquely reflective of their vineyard sites. Many of the Rieslings had residual sugar, but the acidity and minerality made them perfectly balanced. Pretty heady stuff, this thing called "terroir" in wine. It also taught me to follow my own path.  At that time Riesling was decidedly unfashionable thanks to the dubious reputation of a popular wine called Blue Nun Liebraumilch. Today, I'm open to trying any almost any kind of interesting wine from anywhere. As such, I drink a vast array of whites from Italy, Southern France and even Greece. Soave, Friuliano, Verdicchio, Vermentino, Pigato, Fiano, Greco di Tufo, Falanghina, Trebbiano, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul, Rousanne, Assyrtiko. So many whites and so little time. Most of the above wines have some elements of fresh fruit, crisp acidity and that component of being unique to it's geographical know, that terroir thang. Very few of these wines are barrel fermented or even aged in oak. You could safely say that the above wines have had a profound impact on how we make whites here in Dry Creek Valley. If our vineyards were located in a climate similar to Germany's Mosel or Nahe, we'd have planted Riesling a long time ago. But here in Dry Creek Valley, we have a Mediterranean climate, so we opted for Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul, Fiano and Verdicchio. So far the results have exceeded our expectations, and our 2015's are the best examples. 2015 Fiano:  Harvested August 29 at 21.7 brix.  Fermented with native yeasts and aged in concrete.  3.44 pH. 13.2 % alcohol. A winemaker from Campania told my dad "If you think Fiano is ripe, go harvest. By the time you've finished thinking, it might be too late." We have learned to err on the side of picking Fiano early, in order to preserve acidity and avoid higher than desired sugars. In 2015, we nailed it, making a wine that is fruity and expressive but with great minerality and acidity. Fiano has plenty of richness due to the thickness of it's skins. If the wine does not have a spine of acid, it can be a little oily and heavy. I love this grape in Campania and here in Dry Creek. 2015 Cuvee Blanc: Harvested August 31st (Vermentino), September 8th (Grenache Blanc). Fermented and aged in small Concrete and stainless steel tanks. Native yeasts. 3.29 pH.  13.9% alcohol. Both the Vermentino and especially Grenache Blanc in 2015 were particularly expressive. This could have been due to the drought conditions and the fact that we thinned the crop a little bit more than in previous years. It seems that Vermentino and Grenache Blanc were simply meant to be together. The former provides the floral and fruity aromas and flavors while the latter lends texture and body. And Picpoul adds a touch of citrus. This is easily the best vintage of Cuvee Blanc we've made, and we look forward to making more vintages like this in the future. 2015 Vermentino: Harvested August 31st. Fermented in concrete and small stainless steel tanks. Native yeasts. 3.29 pH. 13.9% alcohol. We love Vermentino from Italy's Liguria region. The best Ligurian whites are fresh and crisp making it the perfect fit for summertime drinking. Our 2015 Vermentino has a little more depth than you might expect, but it is still perfectly gulpable. Vermentino is "Bound for Glory" Here in California because it will perform well in most of our wine growing regions. Amazingly only 330 acres are currently planted in the State, but that should dramatically increase in the coming years. Vermentino shows expressive aromas and ripe flavors at low sugars here. That means you can wines with great flavors and acidity. 2015 Grenache Blanc: Harvested September 8th. Fermented in concrete tanks with native yeasts. 3.25 pH. 13.9% alcohol. Grenache Blanc has been the other main component of our Cuvee Blanc along with Vermentino. While not the fruitiest white we make, GB provides excellent body, texture and mineral flavors - sort of like what a Chardonnay can do in Burgundy. In 2015, however, our Grenache Blanc was the most floral, expressive and complex wines in our winery. It will have you swirling and sipping for hours. I'm not sure exactly what caused this to happen, but we are hoping it is a result of the vines carrying a little less crop than normal. We decided to bottle up 95 cases as a mono-varietal wine, if for no other reason than to show what is possible from Grenache Blanc.  

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