We’ve been making Charbono for over two decades, although never making a big deal about it. It’s an arcane Savoie-region grape variety, one we have been sourcing from a small grower in El Dorado (and his two different clones) since 1999. We’ve generally used a little bit in blending our Barbera, due to the Charbono’s deep color. On its own it might best be described as dark and brooding. Flavor-wise it walks a fine line between savory and fruity. Texture-wise the wine has a firm and moderately tannic finish, verging on austere. Once we had the 2015 vintage in barrel, we knew we had to bottle it on its own. Well, almost on its own. We blended ~10% of bold mountain Syrah to temper its innate Charbono-ness and to soften it enough to enjoy in this lifetime. It has subtle herbal, spice and leather aromas; combined with flavors of green fig and black plum. With its muscular structure, it is a perfect wine to accompany robust fare like game, roasted meats or hearty stews.
A variety widely cultivated throughout the south of France, Cinsaut is little known and generally relegated to a subordinate role as a red blending grape, such as in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. However, we think its best and highest use is for producing Rosé - whether as a mono cépage or with a little help from its friends. Dating back to the mid 1880's, our original source may be the oldest planting of this variety on the planet. We co-ferment it with some Vermentino (aka: Rolle) because as a white grape, it has an impact on preserving Cinsaut's relatively fragile pale pink pigmentation, avoiding too much of a salmon-orange hue. Pair it with just about anything you’d want to eat through the spring, summer, and fall seasons (and we’ve even been known to enjoy it during the winter!)
We nailed the Vermentino harvest in 2016. Not bragging, just a fact. We picked our grapes when the fruit flavors were in balance with the acidity, the result being an elegant wine with a most reasonable (for California, at least) alcohol level of only 12%. Jim Gordon in the Wine Enthusiast called it “a light-bodied, crisp and appetizing wine...It's a perfect summer-to-fall drink." Blue Apron wrote: "It’s as if the classic, light Italian Vermentino’s flavor and aroma knobs were dialed as high as they could go.” What other wine have you heard of that 100% of the critics (all two of them) who’ve reviewed the wine actually like it?
Moscato Giallo (in English, Yellow Muscat) is rarely vinified as an off-dry wine in Italy. However since Americans have a sweet tooth, we thought why not? It offers a hint of decadence with nary a trace of guilt. Perfect with a date stuffed with gorgonzola or a grilled fig wrapped in prosciutto. Or on its own. "This fascinating, sweet but light wine wraps lemongrass and thyme flavors around lemon and peach for interesting layers of complexity. The sweetness helps to round the texture and carries everything into a long finish.” 91 points in the Wine Enthusiast, 100 points in our hearts.
This is a grape that asks the question what does it take to be Italian? Probably more than just a name, in this case Moscato Giallo. Because that is not what they call it in Austria, Germany or Slovenia. In any event Yellow Muscat reaches glorious aromatic heights in Italy's Alto Adige. Considered the most elegantly perfumed of all the Muscats, we aim to capture this opulence from Lodi. Perfect with expressive island cuisine, from conch fritters and jerked chicken to poke and kalua pig.
As we traverse the highways and byways of the wine world, the number-one question we encounter is “are Primitivo and Zinfandel really the same wine?” Well, yes and no. After years of genetic research, ampelographers discovered both are clones of a Croatian grape called Crljenak Kaštelanski (aka: Tribidrag). This means they’re not exactly the same (but oh so very close). It’s lively and fruity, generally offering a brighter expression than typical Zin (think fresh blueberries, not blackberry preserves). Neither Croatian or Pugliese, ours is a perfect complement with America's farm-to-table cuisine.
We could have taken an easier path by just making a Pinot Grigio varietal bottling, but why, when there is fun to be had? We source our Pinot Grigio from two small vineyard plots in Carneros, the most southerly and coolest part of Napa Valley. Just to make things more interesting (and more challenging) we added Traminer and Moscato Giallo, both adding pizzazz and a panoply of other flavors. Zelo Bianco is inspired by the white blends from Italy's northeast (like Alto Adige and Friuli), and the Wine Enthusiast calls it “lilting and bright.” We call it broad, soft and lush on the palate (with more than a dash of exoticness). Try it with all your favorite southeast Asian dishes. Or simply on its own.
This is our take on traditional California Zinfandel. We get this fruit from older own-rooted vines (radix vinea = vine root) growing high in the Sierra Foothills, with the goal of offering an elegant expression of drinkable and food-friendly Zinfandel. We use a limited amount of new Hungarian oak barrels during its aging for a subtle contribution of spice, resulting in a Zinfandel that's aromatic and exuberantly fruity. Taking inspiration from the Zin pioneers of the 1960's, it is an homage to a style that was prevalent in California back when we first got into this business. Sometimes the good ol’ days really were better (especially since the only reasonable food pairing for modern-style Zin these days seems to be bbq'd ribs).
An oft misunderstood and vastly underappreciated grape variety, Barbera posseses charms just awaiting discovery. Consigned to life in Piedmont as the second banana to the more glamorous, special-occasion Nebbiolo that goes into Barolo and Barbaresco, Barbera is what the locals drink daily. Its low tannins and higher acidity amplify its fruit while supporting the grape’s savory nature. While here in California it should be so lucky to have this level of prominence, ours is full, flavorful and firm. It has aromas of vanilla, toasty oak and heady dark fruits, all becoming more evident on the palate with a small burst of flavor. Its inherent complexity allows it to pair with just about anything you’re cooking, Mediterranean or not.
When working with 100 year-old Grenache vines like these (hence ‘antichi viti’), the winemaker’s duty is to stay out of their way and gently guide the fruit in a direction you want the resulting wine to take. An extremely minimalist approach was the right path this vintage: less was more. At not even13% alcohol, it is lithe, lively and engaging, and the intrinsic clarity and lightness of Grenache predominates. Immediately charming, you'll want to stick your face in the glass to fully enjoy the aromas and flavors of various red fruits, but there’s a lot of nuance lurking, should you wish to seek it out. Brilliant with grilled meat, vegetable kebabs or a pizza.