2020 Petit Frere
Annual February Rosso Del Campo and Petit Frere offering!
In keeping with tradition, (well at least for the last three years), here are the latest vintages of your favorite everyday table wines: 2020 Rosso Del Campo and 2020 Petit Frere.
Ordinarily, both wines represent fruit-forward, less tannic versions of our wines. Thanks to wildfires during the 2020 harvest, this vintage is a big departure from previous years. The 2020 Rosso and Petit Frere are full-bodied and complex because we used our best vineyard blocks to make the wines. Why? I’ll explain.
2020 put more pressure on us as winemakers than any other vintage. The wildfires prior to and during harvest were stressful, both physically and psychologically. Some days the sky looked like we were starring in Bladerunner. It forced every winemaker to make tough decisions. Several wineries didn’t even take any grapes in 2020.
For many reasons, we decided to proceed with producing wine from all our vineyard blocks — and I’m glad we did. We don’t purchase grapes from other growers, so we didn’t have to decide to pay for grapes that might be compromised. Further complicating matters was the fact that labs testing for smoke taint were so backed up that we didn’t receive results for 3 plus weeks. Not a lot of help when you need to harvest the next day. And smoke taint varies depending on the site and grape type. As you know, we have more types than the usual grower. What little data exists on smoke’s impact on wine doesn’t include most of the varieties we make.
There is also the competitive side of Jason, George, and me. We did not want to give up without trying. At the very least, we would learn valuable information for the future.
All things considered; the wines turned out fine, but it required some thought. Jason summed up our precarious situation best.
“We struggled with this decision because in the lots where we thought we could detect some small level of smoke, it was very subtle and well-integrated with the normal varietal and oak profiles. We even resorted to having other astute tasters of the Unti team taste the wines and invariably they could not detect what Mick and I were looking for. However, we were concerned that over an extended period of time aging in the bottle, as the fruit subsided with normal bottle age, smoke characters might be more pronounced. Therefore, we made the tough decision to declassify our best wines into Rosso del Campo and Petit Frere.”
Yet even this exercise was not easy. The lots going into Rosso del Campo and Petit Frere are our most full-bodied, structured wines. To make both wines more drinkable upon release, we had to think outside the box — like using our Primitivo clone Zin to blend with our best Sangiovese, or our best Grenache and Benchland Syrah. And a funny thing happened. It worked. The Zinfandel (Primitivo) softened the wines enough to make them approachable now.
I can’t imagine us making a more full-bodied Rosso or Petit Frere. I also can’t imagine getting a better value from our winery…meaning the wines won’t last long. —MJU