California Wine are known for big Napa Cabs, and buttery Chards, but in the shadows there are small wineries that focus more on subtlety and finesse. This Saturday we feature three of these producers.
Keep Wines — Based in Napa, winemakers Jack Roberts and Johanna Jensen create wines influenced by the old world with less ripe fruit, minimal manipulation and great ageability. In the vigneron tradition, they do much of the work themselves from vineyard to bottling. The wines are typically 12-mid 13% alcohol, have healthy acidities and minimal sulphur additions.
Martha Stoumen, based in Sebastopol, leases and farms around half of the vineyards herself. The other half is farmed by multi-generation farmers who understand their land, and who share the same philosophy–composting rather than adding synthetic fertilizers, allowing predatory insects the ability to outcompete pests rather than spraying insecticides, and doing proper handwork, such as pruning for vine longevity rather than high yields. In the cellar she uses a minimalist winemaking approach.
INCONNU based out of Napa, is a meditation on simplicity; believing that less is more. They make their wines with spontaneous ferments, low sulfur, low intervention, and ethically farmed grapes.
2015 Keep Wines, Lost Slough Albariño $30
From the Lost Slough Vineyard, the cooler air and loamy soil of the Delta gives this wine a rare minerality not seen in most California white grapes. Delicious acid with a slight saline umami quality. Aged in neutral oak for 18th months
2018 Keep Wines, Delta White Cortese Falanghina $24
From the Lost Slough Vineyard, right next to the Sacramento River Delta, hence the name. The wine is sur lie aged for 6 months before bottling and has a high level of minerality and complexity. Stone fruit pit and Lychee on the nose, river rocks on the palate.
2018 Keep Wines, Counoise $28
These grapes sourced from David Gerard Vineyard in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Keep made this wine using the carbonic method (whole grapes slowly break apart as they ferment). Spiced strawberries, red earth, wild herbs, pomegranate, white pepper, very low tannins and medium acidity.
2018 Martha Stoumen Wines, Venturi Vineyard Carignan $36
From Venturi Vineyard is in Mendocino County which was planted in 1948; dry farmed; organic. The Carignan has aromas of dried herbs, rose petals and cherry fruit leather happily greet you on the nose. Bright cherry notes on the palate with a lovely light body and dusty tannins.
2018 Inconnu Wine, Papa Jaja Cabernet Sauvignon $20
Papa Jaja comes from the Clarksburg vineyard is located next to the Sacramento River, and has combination soils of loam and alluvial material with clay and silt. It’s farmed organically, deficit irrigated in drought years, but dry farmed otherwise. The wine is matured in neutral oak for about a year. It is a great early drinking Cabernet with cassis and blue fruit flavors.
Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 3-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday, we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.