I recently called an Italian wine importer to place a wine order, and in my best Italian (which is far from perfect) I asked him how it was going. In a very dramatic voice he replied “lousy!” Concerned, I asked if everything was all right, and his answer (almost crying) was “No! Summer has passed, and I didn’t even see it.” It was an interesting coincidence, since I woke this morning reflecting that the Autumnal equinox is upon us, but I am not quite willing to admit that summer is ending. Before I transition to the braises and stews that Fall and Winter invite, and dive into the rich, bold reds and whites that go along with them, I find I can prolong the brightness of Summer with wines like the ones we are featuring this month. For me, these two wines can make summer last indefinitely (organoleptically at least). They both have fruit flavors that invite eating seafood, salads, and grilling on the barbecue. It’s inevitable that seasons will change, but isn’t it wonderful that wine can alter reality for us (hopefully without a hangover) if we allow it to? Don’t wait to try these wines, as production on both is tiny, and we won’t have these for long.
2016 Folkway Semillon “The Deviator”
Santa Ynez Valley, California
With one exception, coastal mountain ranges from Alaska down to the tip of South America run north/south to parallel their nearby shorelines. The one exception is in Santa Barbara County, California, where the Santa Ynez Mountains break this rule, and a valley opens up running east/west for about 40 miles. Every morning and late afternoon, this east/west gap funnels cool air from the coast up to the foothills at the base of Figueroa Mountain, but has enough mid-day sun to ripen wine grapes perfectly. The region is famous for being one of the coolest grape growing regions in California, with average temperatures peaking around 70–80 °F and dropping to around 50 °F at night. The chill of the fog and breezes allow grapes to fully ripen without excessive sugar levels and help extend the growing season with harvests sometimes going through October. As a growing region, Santa Barbara is made up of six officially recognized AVAs plus at least another four unofficial sub-regions, known by their varying climates, soil types and topographies. The Santa Ynez Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) lies at the heart of this unique growing area, and is the county’s largest AVA. It runs along the Santa Ynez River in a west-to-east direction, starting about 12 miles from the coast at the town of Lompoc, extending almost 28 miles until running up against the Los Padres National Forest. In 1983, the AVA was developed at a time when it was important to describe the new wine-growing region in the broadest strokes possible, as viticulture was still in a primitive and ignorant state in the Central Coast of California. The greater Santa Ynez Valley AVA is sprawling and unwieldy, with 77,000 acres of vineyards, and over 200 different clones of more than 60 different wine grape varieties. Soils vary from pockets of calcareous limestone that help maintain acidity, diatomaceous earth which creates concentrated wines, sandy soils resulting in more fruit-driven styles, to clay/loam mixtures that retain moisture for thirsty vines.
Brothers Lino and Anthony Bozzano are the 3rd generation of their family to be involved in California agriculture. Today, their main line of business is vineyard management. As caretakers of great vineyards, they have an inside line to great fruit. In 2009, they created Folkway Wine Company, and using legendary vineyard sources at their disposal, started to produce Bordeaux style red and white wines that respect the traditions of the “Old World”, but showcase the terroir the Bozzanos call home. Folkway’s 2016 “Deviator” is made from 100% Semillon sourced from the Gainey Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. The Gainey family is not often mentioned when the word “pioneer” is attributed to the early wine growers in Santa Barbara County, but the Gaineys (father Dan C. and son Dan J.) have operated one of the most diversified ranching and farming operations in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County since 1962. In the mid-1980’s, the Gainey family was among the earliest to plant vineyards and amongst the first to build a winery to support their plantings. The Semillon, all clone 1, comes from Block 7 of the Home Ranch, located in the warmer, eastern end of Santa Ynez Valley. If one were to equate the Gainey Home Ranch with a familiar climate zone up north, Saint Helena, or perhaps Rutherford, might come the closest. The soils are composed of Positas gravelly loam, but there are heaps of big rocks and stones littered throughout the vineyard. Because Semillon is a late-ripener, this fruit is often the last grape picked in mid/late October. The grapes were picked around 22.5 brix, as Lino and Anthony wanted to get some of the traditional Sauternes flavors, but in a dry white wine. They also like to pick the fruit once the Botrytis begins to form to get some nice, ripe fig characteristics. Once harvested the grapes were immediately destemmed and pressed into neutral oak barrels for fermentation with regular lees stirring. The wine was aged for six months in barrel and only 150 cases were produced. Anthony and Lino are trying to make the Deviator a rich wine (the opposite of SB), and encourage malolactic fermentation, although usually they can only get about 50% through ML. Folkway’s 2016 “Deviator” is an expressive, aromatic and opulent white, with notes of orchard and tropical fruits, figs, and spices. It works well with seafood, especially shellfish, pork, veal, chicken, and game birds. Dishes with cream sauces as well as hard and soft cheeses are great pairings also. Lino and Anthony recommend the following: “Grilled rock fish tacos with mango salsa, bone-in pan seared pork chops with apple sauce, cedar plank Chinese five spiced salmon, pasta puttanesca.” The 2016 Folkway “Deviator” Semillon is $21.00/bottle, $226.80/case.
2016 Leah Jorgensen Cellars “Tour Rain” Vin Rouge Gamay Noir/Cabernet Franc Portland, Oregon
I found these quotes by winemaker Leah Jorgensen: “I'm Leah Jorgensen and I heart Cab Franc. I have worked in every capacity of the wine industry (aside from vineyard management), and began working in the Oregon wine industry starting in 2004. I knew I wanted to make wine the moment I visited Oregon, although, I initially had an inclination to ferment grape juice back when I worked at a small winery in Virginia. It took me only a decade to realize that dream. The desire to work with Oregon fruit is definitely a nod to my father’s agricultural roots, as he grew up on a small family farm outside of Eugene. My passion for the Loire Valley stems from my experience working for the distributor that represented Louis Dressner Selection imports to Embassies, restaurants, and retail shops in my hometown of Washington, DC. I’m making pretty wines in the Pacific Northwest - starting with one barrel at a time. 100% inspiré par les vins de Loire! I even hug my barrels to promote negative ions for healthy, happy wine! It's the same magical practice of singing to your plants - science proves it's a real thing! And, I even sing opera to my fermentations. I've been in the wine business for nearly 20 years, and I'm delighted to work with amazing growers from Southern Oregon and the Willamette Valley who provide me with premium fruit so I can craft my wines with love. I'm transparent about what I do in the winery and celebrate both traditional methods and the use of innovation to bring out the best expression of my wine, based entirely on what the vintage and vineyard site give me. C'est Loiregon!” When asked about her winemaking style Leah answers, “I'm a minimalist. I pay attention to what the vintage and the site give me. Everything changes each year. I look at my juice panels before fermentation. They tell me everything I should do to make sure the wine will finish well. I try to use my skills, knowledge, and education to make good decisions. But I don't manipulate the wine”. Our club selection is inspired by the Touraine red blends from France’s Loire Valley that are centered around Gamay Noir. Two vineyards and two appellations make up the two grapes in this blend. This Oregon version, called “Tour Rain”, is comprised of 40% Gamay Noir and 60% Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Franc is from Sundown Vineyard, which is located in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, and the Gamay Noir was sourced from Havlin Vineyard, which is situated in the east end of the of the Willamette Valley’s Van Duzer Corridor in the Perrydale Hills. Both vineyards are sustainably farmed and are L.I.V.E. certified. The Cabernet Franc was harvested first on September 29th at 23.8 brix, went through traditional short vating (5-6 days), and was sorted, de-stemmed, crushed lightly (half whole berry, half crushed), with a four-day cold soak, starting fermentation at 55° F so as to have a slow, extended fermentation, with manual punch-downs twice daily, then aged in neutral French oak barrels for 10 months, with malolactic fermentation completed in two months. The Gamay was harvested on September 23rd at 23 brix, and was sorted, de-stemmed, whole berry crushed, with a four-day cold soak followed by manual punch-downs twice daily during fermentation, then aged in neutral French oak for 10 months, with malolactic fermentation completed in two months. The wine was racked, blended, then filtered prior to bottling. Only 283 cases were produced. This classic Loire blend has a lovely balance of floral notes, red fruit, and a hint of pepper and sweet wood - with aromatics of ripe black cherry, raspberry, cassis, hibiscus, rose petals, cedar, cigar box, vanilla bean, black tea, and pink peppercorn. Flavors of Bing cherry, pomegranate, cranberry, raspberry, cocoa powder, clove, and roasted bell pepper coat the palate, and the wine finishes with bright acidity and juicy fruits, combined with rich, soft tannins Try the 2016 “Tour Rain” with pasta, spicy, rich Asian dishes (noodles), smoked salmon, charcuterie and cheese boards, beet salad, chewy-crusted pizza, and skewers/kabobs. The 2016 Leah Jorgensen Cellars “Tour Rain” Vin Rouge is $26.00/bottle, $280.80/case.