The 7 Percent Solution: Celebrating Rare Grapes & Quality Winemakers of California

The Seven Percent Solution: 17 Wineries, Crazy Grapes

Bergamot Alley in Healdsburg did a bang up job hosting a media and trade portion of the upcoming 7 Percent Solution wine tasting (Sarah even created a fantastic book listing wineries, wines, providing note space, and a clever business card holder). The public tasting occurs Saturday.

The event celebrates wines from 17 wineries in California developing their portfolios with lesser known, lesser planted varieties. As the story goes, approximately 93% of the vines in California rest in only 7 grape types. The 7% Solution brought together wines with a focus on the remaining few.

There wasn’t a bad wine poured, and there were a few excellent wines too. It’s hard to choose favorites in a group like that. Some wineries shared unreleased wines, others older vintages and first tries, and a fair number of unicorn wines appeared–wines of such small production they’re spoken of but seen only by the pure of heart that truly believe in their existence. I believe.

RPM’s 2012 Gamay was one of my genuine favorites. Grown in pink granite, there is a nerviness to this wine that accents its flavors beautifully. The RPM Gamay is all about subtle complexity pulsing through beautiful tension. It gives a richness that washes over the mouth with just a pinch of traction through the finish, and beautiful aromatics.

The 2012 Abrente Albarino from Bedrock and Michael Havens remains a favorite (I had enjoyed it too last weekend). Where previous vintages were perhaps softer in the mouth, the 2012 brings in 40% fruit grown in limestone to balance the rich flavors of the Stewart Vineyard with the tension and zing of the Watson. It’s a gorgeous, stimulating combination.

Ryme Cellars woos me with their 2010 Aglianico, a wine others commented may be their best vintage of that grape. The dark fruit comes through with a light bodied presentation and well integrated spice to offer complex freshness.

The Forlorn Hope 2011 “Que Saudade” Verdelho really sings with a fresh, feminine, musk I can’t get enough of–all outdoorsy, pert, and interested, with great viscosity and range of flavor.

The just released Dirty & Rowdy’s 2012 Semillon with focused earthiness and pleasing texture was being poured on Wednesday out of magnum. It’s a treat.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find the Stark 2011 Viognier, a wine that absolutely fights its fruit’s stereotypes to give great concentration and texture on the palate with a long nervy finish. Two Shepherds’ 2011s are drinking perfectly right now so drink while you can (I think they’re about sold out but he’s pouring them). broc cellars 2012 Picpoul still has that surprisingly fresh-complexity of the 2011 but with a richer flourish.

Scott Schultz is pouring his new whites for Jolie-Laide. They’re a nice pair of Gris wines giving fresh spice in the Pinot Gris, and textural focus in the Trousseau Gris. But you’ll have to keep an eye for an opening as he pours. (All the girls were deservedly loving his table.) The Idlewild 2012 Arneis was all seering, pretty, and textural with layers of flavor. They’re one of the labels that helped get the event started too, so be sure to thank them.

Best of all, the 7% Solution was just full to the brim with good, and super fun people.

Here are some photos from the event.

Ryan, Hardy, Pax

Ryan Glaab, Ryme Cellars; Hardy Wallace, Dirty & Rowdy; Pax Mahle, Wind Gap

Hardy, Chris, Nathan, Megan

Hardy Wallace, Dirty & Rowdy; Nathan Roberts, Arnot-Roberts and RPM; Megan Glaab, Ryme Cellars; Chris Cottrell, Bedrock Wine

Forlorn Hope, Dirty & Rowdy

Forlorn Hope Wines, Dirty and Rowdy Family Wines

William

William Allen, Two Shepherds

Pax, Mick, Nathan

Pax Mahle, Wind Gap; Mick Unti, Unti Wines; Nathan Roberts, Arnot Roberts, RPM

Broc Cellars

broc cellars Picpoul

Sam

Sam Bilbro, Idlewild Wines

Stark

Stark Viognier

Matthiasson

Matthiasson Refosco (one of the unicorns)

Raj, RPM

Raj Parr, RPM

Raj and Duncan

Raj Parr and Duncan Arnot Meyers, RPM

Scott

Scott Schultz, Jolie-Laide

***

Thank you to Pax Mahle. Thank you to Dan Petroski.

Thank you to Kevin, Sarah, and Sam.

Copyright 2013 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com.

Comments

6 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Rachel Peak,

    I’m attending the public tasting on Saturday, and could not be more excited for this event–more so than any of the tastings that I’ve attended in the past few months. The winemakers that will be there are the ones I am most interested in these days, producers both familiar and new to me, all under one roof for exploration and conversation. What more could I ask for? Oh yes, Matthiasson Refosco! Dare I dream?!? Thanks for the great write-up, which made me froth at the mouth a little more waiting for the weekend.

  2. Thanks Elaine for supporting, for the mention and compliment. This is a pretty heady crowd to be in company with.

    On the TS 2011 supply.
    The 2011 Grenache Blanc (and a few other whites) is sold out. But the 2012 is bottled shortly and released this summer, likely in time for July 4th!

    2011 Pastoral Blanc blend is available in limited quantities.
    2011 Grenache & Syrah are new, small amounts but available.

    Look forward to the public tasting on Saturday.

  3. Congrats to Hardy Wallace, William Allen, and the others. I just wrote a piece about the Charbono grape. Only 89 acres of this grape exists, all in California. The Napa Valley has 52 acres and a just a handful of wineries that make a limited production of Charbono. Add Charbono to your list of obscure varietals. It is a fun and exciting wine. http://www.winecountrygetaways.com/napablog/napa-valley-charbono/

    • Hi Joe,

      I’ve written about Charbono some too. It can be a really refreshing and stimulating wine. It’s been interesting to taste through the few current examples being made in Napa and discover which winemakers seem at home with the grape’s unusual characteristics, and which are making it into something else. DNA studies have shown it is related to some of the vines planted in Argentina too. Glad to see you’re enjoying it.

      Didn’t see any Charbono at 7% though–an example of how very many lesser known and vinified grapes there are.

      Cheers!

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