Like the final season of Game of Thrones, you do not want to miss our Spring 2019 offerings.
(We drink and we know things…)
2016 SANGIOVESE RISERVA
20 or so years ago we struggled to make the kind of Sangiovese that was worthy of our adoration for this grape. The wines could sometimes be light, thin, slightly astringent and mildly oxidized. Sounds great doesn’t it?
Now, with the release of this 2016 Riserva we can safely say it is one of our best wines and perhaps one of the only classic Sangioveses produced outside of Italy. It has been a long but satisfying road.
As I have said many times before, Sangiovese is challenging because it is a vigorous vine prone to extreme variation in quality depending upon the site. We’ve learned to control the amount of crop our vines carry and identify our most distinguished site, the West Hillside Terrace of our original vineyard. Now, as Mick Jagger would say, “Time is on our Side.”
The Sangiovese George and Linda Unti planted in 1992 is entering mid life (27 years old in vine years in like 40-50 for humans). And like humans this age, the vines are prioritizing quality over quantity. They are more evolved and balanced. In other words, they’ve lived a little.
Maybe it’s not that dramatic, but however you ‘splain’ it, this West Hillside Terrace section of our Sangiovese vineyard is as consistent as Steph Curry shooting foul shots. The 2016 Sangiovese shows the depth and power of our 2014 with some of the focus and precision of the 2015. It is a wine that will surely impress your Brunello Di Montalcino friends (you can never have too many of those.) Might even blow their minds when they taste this wine 10 years from now…
Only 150 cases were made. $55 bottle CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE
2016 CUVÉE FOUDRE
Across the varietal board the 2016 vintage produced fuller bodied wines with more depth and structure than in 2015. This is especially noticeable in our top southern Rhône Blend, Cuvée Foudre
Cuvée Foudre is our way of living vicariously through our wines. When deciding on the CF blend, winemaker Jason Valenti and I always start discussing Gigondas or Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Hell, my tasting notes probably come straight from reading Hugh Johnson, or Jancis Robinson’s description of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah were meant to be together—like John Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. The grapes are similar in that they can show pepper and tar, but each has a unique fruit profile and different levels of tannin. Grenache has raspberry fruit with lighter color and tannin, while Mourvedre and Syrah are darker and more tannic.
The 2016 CF is a bit more like our 2012 in that it is full-bodied with firm tannins. Our Grenache in 2016 is more structured than in 2015. I think what strikes us about this wine is its complexity and similarity to good Southern Rhône wines. It will be very interesting to see this wine progress over the next 6 to 10 years.
265 cases produced including a limited supply of magnums. $55 bottle $115 mag
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE
2016 SYRAH BENCHLAND
Similar to the Sangiovese West Hillside, our Benchland Syrah, planted in 1991 is our most reliable vineyard block.
As I stated earlier, the 2016 vintage is proving to be a Vin de Garde for Unti. (Every time I speak in the third person, I think of my favorite baseball player, Rickey Henderson) The cool August weather helped our red grape varieties develop more intense fruit AND tannin structure. As you know, our Benchland Syrah is always our most structured wine, so for 2016, you can fill in the blank.
It is also nice to experience a vineyard really hitting its stride at this age. We routinely aggressively crop-thin all of our red varieties to facilitate depth and concentration. Our Benchland Syrah now requires less of our involvement as the vines are more naturally balanced. If you’re noticing a pattern of me extolling the virtues of old age, you are not wrong.
Our winemaking for this Syrah has not changed. We do not employ whole-cluster fermentation, as it seems to diminish vineyard character. And while we age our Syrah Benchland in more new oak than any other wine, a vintage like 2016 is already soaking up that oak.
This is a prodigious vintage for our beloved vineyard. A wine that will age at least 8 to 12 years.
300 cases produced including a limited supply of magnums. $55 bottle, $115 mags
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE
The other day I received a call from a good friend, Jeff Diamond, owner of two excellent stores in the East Bay called Farmstead Cheese. Upon tasting our 2018 Rosé he said he finally agreed with me: “This is the best Rosé we have ever made.” Apparently, I have made this claim a few times before. (Just ask another dear friend, Jenny Klock, former owner of Picnic in Seattle)!
So I will not make this claim for the 2018 Rosé. I will explain why this rendition has a bit more fruit and acidity than in the past.
For the last 6 or seven years we have been using a block of Mourvedre that you could say is not exactly our best. We are now in the process of replanting Mourvedre on our Benchland property, which is a much better micro-climate for consistently ripening the variety.
So this 2018 Rose is 90% Grenache and only 10% Mourvedre. As you might expect, this year’s model features more high-tone fruit and is higher in acid than in the past (Mourvedre is lower in acid than Grenache, even when harvested earlier). Have no fear. Just because this vintage has more fruit doesn’t mean we are making simple Rosé from Pinot Noir. This is a wine made from Grenache Noir farmed for quality, and as such, has the complexity and texture of Provencal rosé.
Contrary to some previous years, this 2018 Rosé is already showing great…and it has only been in the bottle for about three weeks. Have fun with it this summer!
1,580 cases produced including 95 cases of magnums. $30 btl $65 mags
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE
If you haven’t noticed by now, we are in love with Vermentino. It is the quintessential Mediterranean white grape, and it has definitely found a home in Dry Creek Valley.
Anyone who has ever visited Italy’s famous tourist area Cinque Terre located along the Ligurian coast will tell you about the amazing white they drank from Vermentino. It is fresh, fruity, crisp, and dry. Ideal for the local seafood fare, which is also amazing.
Vermentino is also THE White Wine of an even warmer Mediterranean microclimate— Sardenia. Here the wine tends to be a little fruitier with a softer acidity. But it is still the preferred wine choice for local seafood, especially in the summer.
Our experience growing and making Vermentino for ten years tells us we have a much bigger window of being able to harvest the grape at mature flavors while the acidity is still ripping. Our summer night temperatures are much cooler in Dry Creek than in Italy because the Mediterranean Sea is much warmer than our frigid ocean on the Sonoma Coast. Our cool night summer nights help Vermentino retain the type of acidity you would find in Northern Europe.
This 2018 Vermentino is a remarkable wine. It has the floral grapefruit aromas of Ligurian Vermentino with the racy cut of Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc. This is the third consecutive vintage we’ve made this style (fermented in Stainless steel and aged in concrete tanks). It really represents a lovely anomaly—a California white that is more driven by freshness and acidity than its European counterparts. If this is our niche with Vermentino, I’m good with that.
598 cases produced. $28 bottle CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE
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