APRIL 15, 2020
DON'T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME
We hope this email finds you staying the course through this historical experience. I’ve said it before, but it certainly bears repeating, our customers are THE BEST. Your gracious support has kept us going, allowing us to keep all of our staff employed and busy. As Danae and I find ourselves grateful and eager to continue supporting local businesses directly—farmers, restaurants, friends' small businesses, we are proud to provide you personal service, from our own small business. I have truly enjoyed all of my communication with you during this trying time. Since we can't visit with you in person for a while, we will be posting video reviews of each new release on our website. We miss your feedback on our wines and would love to see YOUR reviews of our wines. Post your videos on Instagram or Facebook and George, Jason, and I will pick a winning video for each wine on May 15th. You'll get a Mag of your choosing, and we will post your wine review up on our website alongside ours. Thanks again.
Three Views of a Secret — Jaco Pastorius [listen here]
Self-Portrait in Three Colors — Charles Mingus [listen here]
Both of these songs are personal favorite compositions by two late, great, bassists, Jaco Pastorious and Charles Mingus. Now, sequestered in my music room at home, they seem more than appropriate for this trio of new Unti wine releases.
The life cycle of a secret is short, because the better it is, the less likely it will remain one. Over the years, you have known about Unti’s secrets—that our Montepulciano, Sangiovese Riserva, and Cuvée Foudre aren’t just good wines, but they are at the top of their respective genres in California. Now, the word is out.
In many ways these wines are self-portraits, with the three colors being my dad, myself, and our winemker, Jason. The entire process of planting and making Sangiovese, Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Montepulcano reflects our passion for wine AND willingness to do what it takes to have success with them.
George taught me at an early age that in sports—AKA—LIFE, nothing is more important than hustling, regardless of your talent. I’m proud to say my daughters have embraced this throughout their lives. In this crazy environment, we are all hustling. It is what will make things better when this is all over.
100% MONTEPULCIANO p u r c h a s e h e r e
Italian wine fanatics know Montepulciano to be a source of great robust red wine, especially for the price. Good Montepulciano is dark and full-flavored but doesn't always have the complexity or elegance of a sophisticated wine. The GREAT ones do, and I humbly submit this 2017 Montepulciano is one of those.
As my hero David Byrne might say, “How did we get here?”
1. Dry Creek Valley has warm-to-hot summer days and very cool evenings. This helps Montepulcaino develop great aromas, flavors, and more polished tannins. It also helps the grape retain acidity.
2. Limit yields through aggressive crop thinning. Fewer clusters mean the vine comprehensively ripens fruit.
3. Attention to detail in the cellar (temperature control and hygiene). Grapes are de-stemmed but not crushed. Given a five-day, pre-fermentation cold-soak. Fermented with native yeasts. Aged in only French oak barrels from small artisan coopers.
4. Lot selection. Only our top two lots are used in this blend. Vines planted in 2005 and 2007.
5. 2017 vintage featured more “hang time” due to cool August and early September weather.
Our friend, Ian D’ Agata, knows more about Montepulciano from Abruzzo than anyone. He says great Montepulciano needs to be grown in the cooler sites of Central Italy. Dry Creek Valley, due to its proximity to the cold Pacific Ocean would definitely be considered a cool climate in Abruzzo.
Our 2017 is easily THE most expressive Montepulciano we have ever made. So much so, that I use a Burgundy glass to appreciate the intense aromas of cassis, dark cherries, semi-sweet chocolate and so on. The wine is definitely full-bodied with great tannins, but they are so polished that you almost don’t notice them. This intensely fruity wine might lure you into drinking now. But you will be richly rewarded for hanging on to it for another 6 or 7 years.
MICK + GEORGE REVIEW OF THE 2017 MONTEPULCIANO
2017 CUVÉE FOUDRE
40% GRENACHE 30% MOURVEDRE 30% SYRAH p u r c h a s e h e r e
One of the “colors” of our collective “self portrait” is our love of Southern Rhone wines. It has been our passion long before George planted one vine of Grenache, Mourvedre, or Syrah.
As with all of these wines, our aggressive approach of reducing crop has yielded higher quality wine on a more consistent basis. This is why we have been able to make a Cuvee Foudre three consecutive vintages, 2015, 2016, and this 2017.
CF really embodies our whole process here since we started. Determine what varieties might make great wine in Dry Creek based on our knowledge of wine. Then pursue the methods in the vineyard and winery to make the best version of this wine… and it has worked.
CF is our most critically acclaimed wine. This was on display a month ago at a blind tasting coordinated by Chris Sawyer, well known Sonoma County sommelier. Chris assembled an impressive group of wine tasters to blind taste an even more impressive line-up of Southern and Northern Rhone wines.
The Southern Rhone flight was comprised of three prominent Chateauneuf du Papes (Clos De Papes, Chateau Beaucastel and Domaine Modéréé), and our 2016 Unti Cuvee Foudre.
At least 8 of the tasters ranked our 2016 CF number one. For the record, I had it ranked third behind Domaine Moderee and Beaucastel. At the very least, our wine wasn’t immediately disregarded as being too fruity or New World-like. It has enough tannin structure and complexity to hang with the big guys.
The 2017 is very much on point with its predecessors because it comes from the same three vineyard blocks-Alban Grenache, our original Mourvedre and clone 383 Syrah, all planted in 1998. CF represents what the best southern Rhones do; the darker, more tannic side of Grenache-based wine. This wine will age nicely over the next 5 to 8 years, minimum.
WATCH MICK'S REVIEW OF THE 2017 CUVÉE FOUDRE
2017 SANGIOVESE RISERVA
100% SANGIOVESE p u r c h a s e h e r e
And now we get to my favorite of the bunch, 2017 Sangiovese Riserva, mainly because I’m likely genetically predisposed to favoring the grape. It is also because I have never had a Sangiovese this good from California.
Our West Terrace Hillside Sangiovese block, along with Benchland Syrah, makes our most compelling wine. Planted in 1992, the vines are more balanced without the need for aggressive thinning as in the past. It seems vine age impacts Sangiovese every bit as much it does Zinfandel. In that sense, this 2017 Sangiovese is a reward for George taking the chance and planting it 28 years ago.
Jason and I recently attended the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium tasting in The City. Tasting several 2015 Brunello’s, we both commented on how the 2017 has every bit as much complexity and structure as those wines. The only big difference we notice is that our 2017 has more intense fruit; partly from our terroir and partly from not aging our Sangiovese in oak for the two years required in Montalcino. We choose to bottle after 14 months in barrel to preserve fruit.
But bottling after 14 months in oak means that it might have less evolved tannins—which is where you come in. Tasting now, this wine SIGNIFICANTLY improves upon decanting because it is all fruit and structure. However, in 7 to 10 years this wine will undoubtedly reward you with a milestone Cal Ital wine.
To quote Steve Kerr when asked which of his championships was his favorite, "that is like asking me who is my favorite kid." Then after recounting the championships, he added, “For the record, it's my daughter.” For the record, this 2017 Sangiovese Riserva is my favorite wine Unti wine, ever.
WATCH MICK'S REVIEW OF THE 2017 SANGIOVESE RISERVA
100% VERMENTINO p ur c h a s e h e r e
All aboard the Vermentino Train!
There is a cute train that runs along the Ligurian coast serving the five towns more popularly known as Cinque Terre. As you know, Cinque Terre is our favorite part of the world for Vermentino. Well, somehow that train is making its way to California, and if you don’t want to miss out on great white wine, you’d best be on it.
2019 is our tenth vintage making Vermentino, and you’ve probably heard me say I wish we had more of it planted. This quintessential Mediterranean white has a serious home here in the Dry Creek Valley. Our climate makes it easy to produce intense, crisp, and fruity Vermentino here.
The ’19 is almost a carbon copy of the extremely successful 2018, only with a little more fruit and body. The wine is floral and fruity with a hint of Loire Valley nerve from acidity. We just bottled it last week, so it is a little verklempt in the finish, but that should subside in a few weeks. I love this wine.
WATCH MICK + GEORGE'S REVIEW OF THE 2019 VERMENTINO HERE
2018 SEGROMIGNO LOT 2
73% SANGIOVESE 27% MONTEPULCIANO p u r c h a s e h e r e
We made two lots of Segromigno in 2018. Lot #1 is more 55% Montepulciano, making it a more full-bodied wine that we will be releasing in the fall. Lot #2 is 73% Sangiovese, which is almost exactly the same blend as the immensely popular 2017 Segromigno.
The Sangiovese we used for this Lot #2 is from a vineyard we planted in 2007. It is our original clone of Sangiovese Grosso planted on a low vigor rootstock called 420-A. When we planted this block, we hoped it would make it into our Riserva, and that may happen in a few vintages.
For now the younger vines are producing intensely fruity Sangiovese that is not quite as full-bodied or complex as our older vines from the West Terrace. It is more like a Rosso di Montalcino, and when blended with Montepulciano, makes for our version of a SuperTuscan wine.
The 2018 Segromigno is very much like the 2017 with a brighter sense of cherry fruit from the Sangiovese. I’ve said many times that Segromigno is perhaps our most Italian-like wine, and this 2018 proudly carries on that tradition.
WATCH MICK'S REVIEW OF THE 2018 SEGROMIGNO HERE
All wines may be ordered here on our web store or by calling the winery (707) 433-5590