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UNTI 

—fall 2022—


New Releases

(Scroll for full Wine Details)
2019 CUVÉE FOUDRE
2019 GRENACHE
2019 MONTEPULCIANO
2019 SANGIOVESE
2019 SYRAH BENCHLAND
2020 BARBERA

 

 Wine business folks have always embraced buzz words to simplify what is generally a more complicated product and process when talking about winemaking. Not that I would ever succumb to such hyperbolic marketing…
 
Lately, some have been describing their wines as “low intervention.” I think this is funny because the term assigns more importance to a few select winemaking techniques over the vineyard, grape variety, and other key wine production activities.  Can you imagine any of the world’s best wineries ever doing this? “Hello, welcome to Chateau Low-Intervention. Our first stop is the lab, where we don’t do anything.”
 
Anyone who has ever made wine commercially, would say winemaking is the polar-opposite from a low-intervention process. Never mind how much effort we expend in the vineyard farming the best fruit to make that wine. If we could forage bottles of Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé in their tiny parcel of Musigny, maybe then would I accept the concept of low-intervention wine.
 
Zach Garbelle summarizes this concept in an excellent article called "There’s No Such Thing as Low-Intervention’ Wine" – So Why does the Industry Champion the Term?
 
Good question, Zach.
 
Best as I can tell, “low-intervention” is used as a marketing term “implying” a wine is made with organic grapes, without the use of commercial yeasts, a limited use of sulphur dioxide and neutral aging vessels. As if this is more natural and wholesome than wine made in any other way.
 
I have many problems with using the words low intervention, so I will try to limit this to a few of them. All the above winemaking claims are simply implied. We don’t really know how the grapes were farmed or what type of nutrients were given to the natural yeasts or the amount of S02 used. Therefore, it is a meaningless claim. Many low-interventionist winemakers often don’t even use organic fruit, which is misleading, to say the least.
 
And maybe that is the point.
 
In saying low intervention, a winemaker has the perfect excuse for making funky, weird, and possibly unpleasurable wine—all of which can easily happen during the winemaking process. “If it tastes funny, I meant to do that, so you can’t question my intent or credentials.”
 
 The real potential implication here is that anyone can make wine. You don’t need to work 10 years in the vineyard or cellar honing your skill and craft. It is like saying anyone can be an artist, musician, or writer. The renowned street artist, Banksy sums it up best, “I used to encourage everyone I met to make art. I used to think everyone should do it. I don’t really think that so much anymore.”
 
To be sure, there is a market for wines that reflect funky characteristics resulting from “hands off” winemaking. I just think it’s better to use more accurate terms when marketing it. For example, artisan brewers make Sour Beer, made by managing spoilage organisms to make an interesting beer. Fans of sour beer know what they are getting because the name says it all. Similarly, with the aperitif/dessert wine, Amaro.
 
Finally, this is much ado about nothing. Most small, artisan wineries make wine using traditional, well-proven methods that are a culmination of their experience making wine from great vineyards. Our wines today are better than ever because we go through laborious, painstaking effort to continuously improve, while eschewing industrial short cut winemaking techniques. Which requires intervention AND constant attention. 

 
Enjoy the new releases and Happy Thanksgiving.
Mick Unti 

2019  
Cuvée Foudre

 
 
This is the fifth consecutive vintage we have made our homage to Châteauneuf-Du-Pape, Cuvée Foudre. It is an emphatic statement of our improved efforts in the vineyard, combined with a very good vintage, and Jason’s attention to detail in the winery. We only made CF twice in the 10 vintages prior to 2015.

 Cuvée Foudre ‘19 is a familiar blend of 40% GR (Alban clone), 30% Mourvedre and 30% Syrah. Mourvedre is the component that makes this wine a compelling Southern Rhône blend. We have now settled on using three small vineyard blocks to make this wine—Grenache Alban Clone, Mourvedre from our original Tablas Creek selection, and Syrah clone 174/877.  

The 2019 Cuvée Foudre has a bit more tannin structure than in 2018. I liken it to our 2016 CF, which is still living large today. Our Mourvedre really benefitted from the winter rains and warm, late summer weather, as the vines had healthy leaf canopies. Mourvedre is the X-factor by contributing complexity, structure, and, well, Frenchiness. As in previous vintages, the Grenache really adds an intensity of fruit you’ve come to expect from UNTI.

Whether you are a fan of UNTI wines or Southern Rhône blends, this is a must for your cellar. This '19 Cuvée Foudre wine will likely age longer than the previous two vintages. My standard recommendation of 5-8 years.
 
$70 btl
$56 in any case + purchase

258 Cases Produced
BUY 2019 Cuvée Foudre

 2019 
Grenache

 

  2019 is shaping up to be a great vintage, especially for our Grenache-based wines. This 2019 Grenache is a return to our “baby CDP” or Gigondas-style blend since it includes 8% Mourvedre.

Grenache probably benefits more from our aggressive crop-thinning than any other variety we grow. This is a classic example of why intervening is NOT a dirty word. Left to its own devices, young Grenache vines would yield more fruit, leading to a less interesting wine. The best Grenache-based wines come from low-yielding vines, and our experience farming it for 20 + years confirms this.

Our approach puts our vines in a position to succeed every year. Then, when we have favorable vintage conditions, as in 2019, it enhances what would generally be a high-quality wine. Both Grenache and Mourvedre excelled in 2019, making this bottling more complex, structured, and more Southern Rhône-like.  

This 2019 GR has a bit more structure than the previous two vintages, making it a candidate for aging at least 5 to 7 years.
 
$40 btl
$32 in any case + purchase

588 Cases Produced
BUY 2019 Grenache
2019 
Montepulciano

2019 was good news/bad news for our Montepulciano.

 The good news is that our original MP vineyard block (we have four) performed magnificently in 2019. It is big, dark, and full-bodied, with the complexity and acidity we’ve come to expect from this grape in our region.  Being on the cooler edge of where Montepulciano consistently ripens, lends an air of sophistication to the wine—one that producers in the higher elevations of Abruzzo are discovering. 


Now the bad news.  Our largest block of MP, planted in 2007 did not perform as well in ‘19. For whatever reason, the leaf canopy was not as healthy during the growing season, resulting in a lighter wine that had some vegetal aromas and flavors. We painfully declassified this lot to our Rosso Del Campo wine, thereby bottling only 130 + cases of MP.  We have since addressed the issue by composting the soil, and it seems to have done the trick in both 2021 and 2022.

It is a brutal reminder of unforeseen circumstances we deal with as wine grape farmers. Fortunately, we have 3 other Montepulciano blocks, which is 3 more than 99.9% of California wine growers, and the 2019 vintage is amazing—a wine that will age nicely over the next 4 to 8 years.

For those UNTI Montepulciano-heads out there, this 2019 is a must have. Also available in limited supply of magnums!
 
$50 btl 
$40 in any case + purchase
$105 1.5L Magnum / $84 in any case + purchase

150 Cases Produced
BUY 2019 Montepulciano
2019 
Sangiovese 

West Terrace
 
 I have a difficult time describing my initial response to tasting great Sangiovese. I suppose it is like other exhilarating moments—laughing with my wife, watching live music, hitting a ball (golf, tennis or baseball) on the screws, and petting your animals. Great Sangiovese is exciting, comforting, and feels like home. My wine happy place.

I guess that is why our string of successful vintages making West Terrace Sangiovese is so satisfying. Pick your reason for this success—vineyard site, age of vines, managing crop levels, attention to detail winemaking—our West Terrace is now our most reliable vineyard block.

2019 probably would have been an excellent vintage regardless of above listed factors. Moderate August/September weather extended the ripening of our Sangiovese, as indicated by the late September harvest date. It allowed the fruit to develop without getting overripe.

The 2019 West Terrace is more Brunello-like than ever. Jason thinks it is his best effort making Sangiovese because of its complexity, balance, and structure. I completely agree. It is nice when others pick up the hyperbole slack for me.

I look forward to seeing this wine evolve over the next 10 years. It really represents a milestone for our winery.
 
$75 btl
$60 in any case + purchase

100 Cases
BUY 2021 Sangiovese

 

 2019 
Benchland
Syrah

 Like the Sangiovese West Terrace, our Benchland Syrah is an old friend. And I don’t mean “old” to imply a decline in performance. Quite the contrary, this vineyard, at the ripe old age of 31, delivers high quality every year. Now we simply appreciate the nuances a particular growing season imparts. In 2019, it was sophistication and class.

Subtlety has never been the first thing on my mind when I taste Benchland Syrah. Rather, opaque color, power, tannin structure and richness. Yet in 2019, the Benchland SY has a complex, pseudo cool climate set of aromas—think floral and spicy—along with the familiar blackberry, savory character and richness you expect from this bottling. 


So, rather than the usual “Kiss with a Fist,” the ’19 Benchland exhibits some finesse, like a Robert Glasper piano solo. Surprisingly, this wine is already showing well, and should continue to do so over the next 4 -7 years. As Stevie W. would say, “Isn’t She Lovely.”

2019 is our 22nd consecutive vintage making distinctive wine from this vineyard. Considering our success with wine, I can safely say this is one of Dry Creek Valley’s iconic vineyards.

We bottled 60 magnums of this outstanding ’19 Benchland. It would be a perfect treat for your holidays.

$55 btl 
$44 in any case + purchase
$115 1.5 L Magnum / $92 in any case purchase

275 Cases Produced
BUY 2019 Syrah Benchland

2020 Barbera
 

  One of, if not my least favorite Bruce Springsteen songs is Glory Days. Just seems like this is when Bruce (Broo-chay, as they call him in Italy), started “mailing it in.” However, this song is apropos for our 2020 Barbera, which is extremely dark and exotically fruity, reminiscent of the early vintages that established our reputation with this Piemontese grape.

2020 was obviously a crazy year. COVID and wildfires throughout harvest had us thinking Armageddon was upon us. So much so that the extreme heat we endured mid-September didn’t seem to bother us, nor our original Barbera vineyard. The heat seemed to push Barbera past any vegetal flavors we’ve had in recent vintages.

This vineyard was also not bothered by the wildfire smoke. Our Barbera never tested for smoke taint, either as juice or as wine. Jason and I also never detected this character in our sensory evaluation of the wine while aging in small French oak barrels. We have racked our brains looking for an explanation for all of this—vineyard site, Barbera’s modest leaf canopy (leaves are where the vine intakes smoke), or random luck.

However it happened, this 2020 Barbera is a real show-stopper. The style is like the full-bodied Barberas from Italy’s DOCGs in Asti and Nizza—deep color, bright fruit, and solid acidity. While this 2020 is one of our most concentrated Barberas we’ve ever made, I would still drink now through 2025.
 
$40 btl
$32 in any case + purchase

168 Cases Produced 
BUY 2020 Barbera
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