Newsletter 49 SPRING 2015

WHAT A YEAR IT WAS…

For many folks here in Northern California, 2012 was a magical year. The Giants won the World Series (ughhhhh). The A’s made a miraculous turnaround and won their division on the last day of the season. And, more importantly for you, it was one of the best vintages in the last 20 years.

2012 featured moderate-to-warm weather throughout the growing season with a dry, trouble-free harvest. Similar to the great 1997 vintage, it was an abundant crop of remarkable quality. Virtually all of our varieties made dark, fruity and full-bodied wines. This is especially apparent in this trio of our best wines: Sangiovese, Cuvée Foudre and Benchland Syrah.

Like the two Bay Area teams of 2012, the above wines feature power, balance and depth. Unlike the Giants and the A’s, our Sangiovese, Cuvée Foudre and Benchland Syrah wines will improve with age,  and they will not be filing for free agency anytime soon. Fortunately for you, the wines aren’t represented by agent Scott Boras, otherwise they would be at least twice the price, and I would be offering some lame explanation about UNTI only being in it for the love of family, not for the money.

Like the debate over Steph Curry vs. James Harden, you can make a solid case for any of these wines being MVP of the 2012 vintage.

 

2012 SANGIOVESE

Sangiovese, when done right can be one of the world’s greatest wines. Yet there have been, and still are countless obstacles in the variety’s path to stardom.” - Ian D’Agata from Native Wine Grapes of Italy

By now you are all well aware of our infatuation with Sangiovese. As wine lovers, both my dad and I wholeheartedly agree with the first sentence in the above quote from Ian D’ Agata’s outstanding new book on Italian wine grapes. As winemakers, we are painfully cognizant of the second sentence.

Our 2012 Sangiovese might be the best Sangiovese we have ever made here. It demonstrates what can happen if you remove some of the obstacles to making great Sangiovese wine, and have a kick-ass vintage. Good and Luck.

Anyone remotely interested in Sangiovese (or Italian wines at all) should read D’Agata’s section on Sangiovese from the book.   D’Agata covers Sangiovese better than anyone I’ve ever read… so much so that it is now required reading for everyone here at UNTI D’Agata accurately cites many important factors associated with making high-quality Sangiovese:  finding the right sites, using the right clones, selecting low vigor rootstock, keeping your crop yields low and  hoping for good fortune.

Well, we only use Sangiovese Grosso (right clone). Our 100% Sangiovese comes from the West Hillside of our original vineyard (great site) and our young vine block is planted on 420-A (right root stock). We also thin the crop by 40 to 50% each year. Yet, the best vintages for our Sangiovese seem to involve a little luck. Such is the case with 2012.

From the first few days of fermentation, our best lots of Sangiovese were stunning.  They showed dark color, intense fruit, great tannin and bright acidity. Something about the long growing season must have worked for this difficult variety.

When things work out, ours is not to question why. Let’s just enjoy my favorite wine type when it is on. This is by far the best Sangiovese since our 1999 vintage (that includes the brilliant 2010). It will need a year or two to soften, but it should be solid for another 6 to 8 years (2019?) longer.

HARVESTED:  9/15 & 9/17, 9/24 2012                      BLEND: 100% Sangiovese TOTAL ACIDITY: 6.7 g/L                                                  ALCOHOL: 14.5% PH: 3.42                                                                                 BOTTLED: 3/13/14 AGING:  18 Months, French Oak 35% New                CASES PRODUCED :  575

$40/BTL   $32 /BTL WHEN PART OF A MIXED CASE PURCHASE 

$85 / 1.5 Liter Magnum

Order from our online store HERE

 

2014 ROSÉ

As the great Orson Welles once said “We will sell no Rosé, until it’s time.” Or something like that.  Well, we bottled our 2014 Rosé two weeks ago, so it must be time.

68% Grenache and 32% Mourvedre. Dry, full-bodied, fruity, savory…you know what it is. Production is slightly down from the past couple of vintages. Order now, and we promise to ship before it gets too hot.

HARVESTED:  GRENACHE:   8/22, 9/3, 9/7, 9/9, 2014   MOURVEDRE: 9/17-9/23 2014

BLEND: 68% GRENACHE, 32% MOURVEDRE

TOTAL ACIDITY:   5.8 g/L                           ALCOHOL:  13.8%

PH:   3.38                                                          BOTTLED:  3/6/15

AGING:   STAINLESS STEEL TANKS         CASES PRODUCED:  1,496

$24/BTL   $19.20 /BTL WHEN PART OF A MIXED CASE PURCHASE

Order from our online store HERE   

 

2012 CUVÉE FOUDRE

I’m often asked “which of your wines is your favorite?” The person usually acknowledges that this question  might be impossible to answer, since, after all, how can I prefer one of my wines over another—as if they were my children. Well, my wines are decidedly not like my children. It is okay to like some over the others. Cuvée Foudre has the apple of my eye.

While most of our wines really represent the kind of wine I personally consume, I must admit this winery isn’t simply a philanthropic endeavor. The wines are made to be sold and hopefully enjoyed by our customers. However, if there was a wine that we made for sheer self-indulgence, it would be the 2012 Cuvée Foudre.

Cuvée Foudre has the intrinsic character of the first great Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines I ever tasted way back in the early 1980’s. The pepper, tar, licorice and dark raspberry/blackberry aromas and flavors blew my mind. And typical of the day, these wines had tannins. Old school southern Rhône has captivated many aspiring wine geeks, including one Robert Parker.

So what makes the 2012 Cuvée Foudre my kind of town? It’s the Mourvedre, baby. This is only the second time in UNTI history we have made Cuvée Foudre, and in both instances it was due to the quality of our Mourvedre. Our vineyard site, which is next to Dry Creek, might be a cooler edge for consistently ripening Mourvedre. (We just planted 2 acres of Mourvedre on our Benchland site, which is slightly warmer.)

As I mentioned earlier, the long growing season in 2012 really helped all of our varieties develop ripe aromas and flavors. When Mourvedre is right, it has dark cherry fruit with obvious pepper, meat and Provençal herbs—all in a fairly tannic package. It is the character of the Southern Rhône and Bandol, and it is simply amazing.

40% of this CF was fermented with whole clusters and the wine was aged in a 620 gallon foudre, which is how wine has been made for years in the Southern Rhône.  Both winemaking techniques accentuate savory complexity and provide tannin structure. The 2005 is lovely now, ten years hence. The 2012 is even more age worthy, yet it should really start showing well in a couple years.   As Trombone Shorty likes to say: Here’s to takin it “old School.

HARVESTED: 10/3 – 10/19, 2012          BLEND: 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah TOTAL ACIDITY: 6.3 g/L                            ALCOHOL: 14.8% PH: 3.70                                                           BOTTLED: 3/14/14 AGING:  17 Months, 620 Gal Foudre       CASES PRODUCED :  265

$50/BTL   $40 /BTL WHEN PART OF A MIXED CASE PURCHASE

$105 / 1.5 Liter Magnum

Order from our online store HERE   

 

2012 BENCHLAND SYRAH

The Benchland Syrah has been our most consistent vineyard over the years.  Not surprisingly, it fared well in 2012.

During our last release party, I was stationed at the “Library” table pouring six previous vintages of UNTI Benchland Syrah. (Tough assignment, I know.) As my teeth were getting progressively stained, I found myself preferring the 2007 (out of a magnum) and 2005 Benchland Syrah. Interestingly, both wines tasted remarkably similar to the 2012 in their youth.

2007 and 2005 were long growing seasons, which provided intense fruit along with great tannin structure. The same can be said for 2012, which was harvested on September 28th, exactly the same day as in 2007. It seems that our Benchland site responds well to a vintage with a more even ripening cycle.

My guess is that this 2012 has the structure of the 2005 and the fruit of the 2007. Based on last week's tasting, I’m good with that. This 2012 is classic with meat/blackberry/cassis aromas and flavors and serious tannin structure. It should be living large (figuratively and literally, as we bottled a limited number of 1.5 liter bottles) 8 to 10 years from the vintage.

HARVESTED:  9/28 & 10/3, 2012                                 BLEND: 100% Syrah TOTAL ACIDITY: 5.4 g/L                                                  ALCOHOL: 14.8% PH: 3.85                                                                                 BOTTLED: 3/13/14 AGING:  17 Months, French Oak 40% New                 CASES PRODUCED :  525

$40/BTL   $32 /BTL  WHEN PART OF A MIXED CASE PURCHASE

$85 / 1.5 Liter Magnum Order from our online store HERE