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NL 55 // FALL 2017


2014 GRENACHE [order here]


80% GRENACHE NOIR,  14% SYRAH, 6% MOURVEDRE  //  1,008 CASES PRODUCED
$35 / BTL.  or  $31.50 / BTL. (when part of a mixed case purchase or more)
$75 / 1.5 L. mag  or  $67.50 / 1.5 L. mag  (when part of a mixed case purchase or more)

 

Wild, Wild, Vineyard Life

Grenache is always our most challenging wine to make. It is a vigorous variety but doesn’t hold the darkest color, and by the time the grape develops interesting flavors you often deal with very high sugars. Ahh, but when you get it right, it makes damn good wine in our climate, thus we strive to keep learning, keep improving on what is one of our most interesting wines. 

We planted Grenache in 1998 thinking Dry Creek Valley’s climate was good for Zin, so it could be good for Grenache. But to make GREAT Grenache, it would take a lot more work, particularly in the vineyard.

Our first few vintages, we focused on harvesting Grenache at the maximum “physiological ripeness” as is the practice in the Southern Rhône.  Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Priorat and Monstant are excellent examples of why Grenache needs to be harvested in the later stages of ripeness to make compelling wine.

But we also realized that the above classic wines are also the result of lower yields in the vineyard. In the best European appellations, soils, vine age, dry farming, and careful pruning likely keep the crop levels low. In Châteuaneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas, vine yields are limited to a maximum of 3 to 3.5 tons to an acre. 

We have always dropped crop in our Grenache vineyard. However, in 2014 we were more aggressive about thinning, partly based on the CDP crop level standards.  Furthermore, we also began crop-thinning earlier than in previous years. Reducing the crop in late June and early July might give the vine time (approximately 8 to 10 weeks prior to harvest) to provide more concentrated fruit. Often times great vintages in Europe are determined by low crop sets in the late spring.

Our 2014 Grenache is easily one of our best efforts. It shows depth, intense fruit, and solid acid/tannin structure. While 2014 was an excellent vintage our Grenache is better than previous great vintages like 2007 or 2012 due to our efforts in the vineyard. Most importantly, we have been able to achieve similar results in 2015 and 2016. 

I’m not suggesting we have figured out everything there is to know about farming and making compelling Grenache-based red wine. But, I’ll take solace in our team executing our strategy, and realizing a modicum of success…for now. 

BTW, the Rhône AOC we most often liken our Grenache to is Gigondas. Here is an excellent summary on what makes Gigondas our favorite southern Rhône appellation by Josh Raynolds (Vinous’ most recent edition):

The Southern Rhône’s Graceful Side: 

The wines of Gigondas are prized by many Rhône fans—this one included—for their relative elegance compared to the usually weightier and higher-octane wines from neighboring Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Vacqueyras. Gigondas relies heavily on Grenache, and typically displays red fruit flavors with floral and spicy lift, a beneficial result of the fact that a large percentage of the appellation’s best vineyards are in cooler, higher-elevation sites. While many producers age the Syrah and Mourvèdre components of their wines in small, sometimes new oak barrels, Grenache is usually fermented and raised in large concrete, stainless steel or neutral oak vats, which allows the fruit to take center stage. Virtually all of the producers I see on my annual visits to Gigondas take great pains to emphasize that they would like their wines to be known for their balance, complexity, and finesse rather than for brute strength or flamboyant character. As Thierry Faravel, who makes some of the finest examples of Gigondas (and Vacqueyras, for that matter) at his family’s Domaine la Bouïssiere, told me, “Gigondas isn’t a bulldozer or a monster truck wine; it’s more like a sports car—okay, a sports SUV.”                         


  2015 BARBERA [order here]


100% BARBERA  //  425 CASES PRODUCED
$38 / BTL.  or   $34.20 / BTL. (when part of a mixed case purchase or more)
 

While Barbera has consistently produced quality wine for us, we have also learned so much about improving quality and consistency over the years.  With Barbera it has more to do with location and clones. I’ll try to explain, though it might get a little murky.

Our original 1.9-acre block is planted to two clones of Barbera, not by design. At the time it was the only plant material George could get. The two clones are CVT 171 (FPS 3 and FPS 5) and CVT 84 (FPS 4), both from Torino in Italy’s Piedmont region. About 95% of the vines in the original block are 171. Back then we knew nothing about Barbera clones. We only knew the physical properties of the grapes by looking at them. Clone 171 had larger clusters and berries than clone 84.  Since we had very little of clone 84, we simply harvested and fermented the entire block together, and made nice Barbera from 2003 to 2010.

In 2007 we planted another 4 acres of Barbera.  By then we had heard that clone 84 was popular in Italy because of its small to medium clusters and berries.  We decided to plant more than half of the new block to 84. (Still following?) When blending our 2013 and 2014 Barbera, we noticed the new block of clone 84 didn’t have the bright intense fruit that we had in clone 171. Ironically, this was contrary to the information compiled in a study on Barbera by Matthew Fidelibus, where he concludes that 84 is a superior clone.  (Yield and Fruit Composition of Five Barbera Clones in the San Joaquin Valley: http://www.ucanr.org/sites/intvit/files/77320.pdf)

Other than boring you to death, I go into this detail to demonstrate how challenging it is to grow and produce the best wine possible from grape varieties not commonly grown in California. Barbera, Grenache, Sangiovese, and Montepulciano don’t receive anywhere near the same research attention given to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc. 

So we have to take measures to keep as many blocks separate to learn over time which ones make the best wine. This is precisely what we did with the 2015 Barbera. As I mentioned earlier, the clone 84 from the new block was inferior to clone 171. So much so, that we did not include it in the blend. It did not have the richness of fruit, nor the bright acidity we have come to expect from our Barbera.  The process and ultimate decisions we made to omit a component is not easy. For one, it means we are going to have half of the Barbera we could have bottled  (about 425 cases instead of 800). It was quite clear in our blending trials 2015 Barbera was a much better wine without the clone 84 lot. 

This 2015 Barbera represents another serious step towards making a wine worthy of our favorite luxury wines from Alba, Asti, Nizza, and Monferrato. One look at this dark 2015 Barbera and you think it is all about extract and tannin. Yet its concentration of fruit is more than matched by acidity. Obviously, we feel Barbera is worth the effort we’ve put forth toward growing and making it. We hope you agree. Stay tuned.   



LACRIMA 2015/2016 [order here]


100% LACRIMA  //  50 CASES PRODUCED
$25 / BTL.  or  $22.50 / BTL. (when part of a mixed case purchase or more)
 

Similar to Verdicchio, our tiny Lacrima vineyard block is still a work in progress. Half of the vines in this .17-acre block are healthy and half are showing virus. This leads to both limited quantity and uneven ripening. 

Despite such challenging conditions, the Lacrima wine shows a remarkable similarity to our favorite versions in Le Marche’s Morro d’Alba. It is dark with a crazy set of aromas (think bergamot and roses) that is unmistakably Lacrima. This medium bodied wine will surely blow the mind of your wine geek friends.


The Mediterranean White Walkers are Coming!

There is an entire world of great white wines made from grapes not named Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Those grapes have ruled the Seven Kingdoms here in California for years, but there is an army coming to take vineyard space away from them… (Cue Game of Thrones theme music). Dah, duh, da da dah, duh, da da dah.

Okay, so maybe Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Fiano, Albariño, Godello, Carricante, and Falanghina are not threatening to take over the dominance of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc any time soon. However, if the early results of wineries making these Mediterranean whites are any indication, there will be a day of reckoning, just as John Snow always reiterates.


  2016 VERMENTINO [order here]

100% VERMENTINO //  205 CASES PRODUCED
$30 / BTL.  or   $27 / BTL. (when part of a mixed case purchase or more)
 

Vermentino should be planted in every California AVA because it can handle the daytime heat we have here. Those of us who like aromatic, crisp mineral flavors in a dry white wine love Vermentino. It comes from some of Europe’s most beautiful tourist destinations: Liguria’s Cinque Terre and Sardinia in Italy. Corsica and Provence in France. It is fairly easy to say, and even easier to drink. And it doesn’t need to be barrel fermented or aged to have personality. Talk about upside!

Our 2016 Vermentino was fermented and aged in concrete. We made two separate lots. This batch was not completely dry when we bottled the Cuvée Blanc in April, but the extra time in tank was just what it needed to finish. In fact, I think the wine benefitted from the extra time in concrete, making it more drinkable upon release than the CB.

We have tasted quite of few of the world’s best Vermentinos lately. Our favorite producers include Ottaviano Lambruschi, Terenzuola, Punta Crena and Bisson- all from Italy’s Liguria. All of the aforementioned Vermentinos have a little more minerality and acidity than those from Sardinia. But I think we have the potential to make more compelling Vermentino here than they do in Liguria, mainly because our climate is cooler at night than in the Mediterranean. (Being a European wine goof, this is quite a bold claim). Our night time lows can be in the 50 degree range- a full 10 degrees less than in Europe, while our daytime temperatures are similar. The result is a Vermentino with intense fruit and elevated acidity, making a more interesting and perhaps serious wine.

We recently grafted another acre of Vermentino, and plan to plant 2.4 more acres over the next 3 years. Wish we had thought of this 10 years ago.


2016 VERDICCHIO [order here]


85% VERDICCHIO,  15% PICPOUL //  158 CASES PRODUCED
$22 / BTL.  or   $19.80 / BTL. (when part of a mixed case purchase or more)
 

Verdicchio from our vineyards has been somewhat less successful than our other white varieties. The wine has classic Verdicchio aromas and flavors, but does not possess the acidity that we expect on its own. Fortunately we have our friend Picpoul Blanc around to pick up the slack, so we blended 15% into this wine.

This, our third vintage of Verdicchio, was fermented and aged in concrete. The wine is definitely made in a light fresh style, making it ideal with food or as a nice white to have before dinner. Like all of our whites, the 2016 Verdicchio serves as a fine alternative to locally made Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.


October 8th, unprecedented wildfires ripped through Sonoma and Napa Counties. They were the deadliest and most destructive fires in state history. All of us here at Unti, including the vineyards and winery, were fortunate to avoid damage and devastation from the fires, thanks to the phenomenal and heroic efforts of Cal Fire and Sonoma County firefighters. I will never forget watching these folks save our personal property in Geyserville, working several days without sleep, taking massive risks fighting the fires on the ground and in the air.

Obviously, it is emotionally difficult to go about business as usual after you’ve witnessed and endured this type of tragedy. Yet, we know that the best thing for our county and its people, especially those who have lost so much, is to continue on as the small but mighty business we are, and help aid Sonoma County in moving forward.


UNTIVINEYARDS.COM: New  +  Improved

Our new website is live, easy, and secure.  When you sign into your account you will be able to see your purchase history, trade orders, and to update your personal information at any time.  Visit our website for more details, to create a customer log in, retain a credit card on file, or to check on or place an order.  Note that it is not mandatory to create an account within our new system (you can check out as a guest), but if you are able to it will make orders, tracking, and communication seamless from us, to you.  

To create a new account click here.


  NEW RELEASE PICK-UP DAY: SUNDAY,  NOVEMBER 12th, (10 - 4)

Release day for 2014 Grenache, 2015 Barbera, 2016 Vermentino, 2016 Verdicchio, Lacrima (non vintage), along with 2016 Rosé magnums. 10am to 4pm.  Food by Diavola, local music, and some provocative conversation.  You will have an opportunity to donate to the Fire Relief Fund if you would like to. Hope to see you at the winery! Note that all of these wines are available to order and purchase now. 


CURRENT WINES AVAILABLE: Order Online, or visit, or call us at the Winery

2016 ROSÉ ($28) 2016 CUVÉE BLANC ($30)  2016 FIANO ($28) 2016 VERMENTINO ($30) 

2016 VERDICCHIO ($22) 2015 BARBERA ($38)  2014 GRENACHE ($35)  2014 SEGROMIGNO ($28) 

2014 SANGIOVESE RISERVA ($50)  2015 ZINFANDEL ($38)  2014 SYRAH ($30)  2014 SYRAH BENCHLAND ($40) 

2014 MONTEPULCIANO ($35)  LACRIMA ($25) 2016 ROSÉ MAGNUM ($60)  2014 GRENACHE MAGNUM ($75) 

2014 SANGIOVESE RISERVA MAGNUM ($105)

 X  X  X  X

 

10% OFF ON 1 CASE OR MORE — 20% OFF 2 CASES OR MORE OF ANY WINE 


FIRE RELIEF FUNDRAISER DINNER: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11th, (5pm)  

We will be hosting a lavish pizza party featuring magnums of our favorite wines from the Unti library. Our dear friend and supremely talented chef, Dino Bugica (Diavola) will be preparing a family style meal here at the winery, for our first ever wine dinner at our property.  Please click here if you would like to purchase tickets. All wines will be available for purchase at the dinner.

$100 per person (includes tax + tip)

The entire amount will be donated to The Redwood Credit Union Fire Fund. 

 

 

Unti does not have a traditional wine club, rather, we notify you when we have new releases, tastings in your area or events at the winery.

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