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Meeting Idlewild Wines

Idlewild Wines 2012 Collection

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With inspiration of Piemontese, husband and wife team Sam and Jessica Boone Bilbro launched Idlewild Wines with the 2012 vintage.

As they describe it, Sam and Jessica are both fans of texture and acidity. What is found in their wines is a marriage of delicacy and strength. As a portfolio, the 2012 wines express pretty floral aromatics with a driver of acidity and persistent tannin. Sam credits Jessica’s winemaking with a talent for holding onto delicacy, while Jessica points out the ways Sam pushes her to take her approach to the edge of what she’s used to.

An example can be seen in their Cortese (my favorite of these 2012 wines), an intensely uncommon grape for California vineyards. After locating the fruit, the couple decided to take a couple tons and just see how it developed. Wanting to make something more than the typical Cortese, Sam researched the grape’s treatment in Piedmont. Eventually, he located an obscure Italian text describing three winemakers using skin contact techniques in their approach, something Jessica hadn’t used in the same way on whites. They split the fruit into two lots, putting one on skins for 10 days, and the other straight to press. The straight to press lot brought acidity and drive, a linear presentation to the fruit, while the skin contact added texture and depth with ripe, almost musky flavors.

Sam and Emilia

Sam and Emilia checking fruit in Foxhill Vineyard, Mendocino, August 2013

Sam and I travel to the Mendocino, and Fox Hill Vineyard to walk through the fruit. In the Cortese parcel, he explains the difference in sun exposure between bunches. One side of the row receives more consistent light creating riper, darker skinned clusters that go into the skin contact lot to express the walnut and apricot flavors given by the sun. On the more shaded side, greener clusters go right to press for incredible juiciness. The blending of these two lots creates a showcase of Jessica’s expression of delicacy with depth.

Asking them to describe what they see in their own wines, Sam responds. “The drive is acidity, or tannin in the case of the Nebbiolo, but texture gives interest and a little tension.” In this description the pair find the sort of relationship they seek to express through Idlewild, something that can even be seen in the label’s name–a sense of contrast, two distinct, even opposing, pieces working together.

Jessica and Hudson

Jessica and Hudson talking Idlewild, June 2013

This sense of contrast with harmony can be seen in Jessica’s account of her own winemaking as well. “As much of a control freak as I am, I’m not as a winemaker. I make wine very much by feel.” The control comes in at the beginning–making sure tanks or barrels are clean, that the press has happened properly, but the rest occurs through what Jessica describes as listening. “When I stop, and really learn to listen to gut and intuition, it’s more real. The wine feels right.”

***

Thank you to Sam and Jessica. Nice to spend time with you Emilia and Hudson!

These wines were tasted through multiple visits over the course of the summer and fall.

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

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.

Tasting Palmina with Steve Clifton

Though he’d arrived back from a work trip in Hawaii in the middle of the night only hours before, Steve Clifton was kind enough to make time to taste Katherine and I through the entire current Palmina portfolio. And it’s huge. Here are comics for each of the Palmina wines we tasted.

There is a wonderful consistency of quality across these wines, with each also serving as good food wines, offering a nice balance of pleasure and interest. The Botasea Rosato, Dolcetto, and Santa Barbara Vineyards Barbera are likely the three most flexible for food pairing, with the Santa Barbara Vineyards Nebbiolo offering the easiest approach for the heartier wine options including a range of Nebbiolos and the Lagrein.

Following is some information on 16 wines of the Palmina portfolio.

Palmina White Wines

2010 Tocai Friulano, Honea Vineyard

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Planted in 2002 the Honea Vineyards Friulano gave its first vintage in 2005. The 2010 was given all stainless cold fermentation.

It offers nice distinctive minerality with a pleasing saltiness and acidity. The nose and palate offer almond, citrus flower and zest and mixed pepper. The fruit is picked through multiple passes to keep the acidity up, from a unique limestone river bottom soil with little irrigation.

2009 Subida, Tocai Friulano from Honea Vineyards

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Taking the same fruit at the same time from the Honea Vineyards, the Subida is an orange wine style Tocai Friulano made with 36 days of skin contact, no SO2 or CO2, little punch down, and gross lees moved to barrels. The wine is aged in neutral French oak to allow micro-oxidation but no flavor impact. Malo-lactic fermentation occurs in barrel, and the wine is moved via gravity from barrel to tank, then tank to bottle with no fining or filtration.

The wine opens significantly in the glass, also showing the acidity more vibrantly as it opens. The flavors open from dusty, dried citrus notes to include light pineapple and more floral elements. There are nice nut and white floral elements throughout with tart acidity and toast.

2010 Malvasia Bianca, Larner Vineyard

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Fermented, after a 24-hour cold soak, in neutral barrels, the Malvasia Bianca includes an overnight maceration to heighten aromatics, and deepen the palate, and help relieve bitterness otherwise common to the grape. It is made with all indigenous natural yeast.

The nose here is vibrantly tropical floral with pear, apple, and meyer lemon notes, while the palate becomes white floral, mildly stemmy, with meyer lemon, lemon zest and light apple skin. There is a significant contrast between the nose and palate that makes the wine intriguing. Steve says it is his favorite oyster wine, and it certainly presents as great for seafood.

2010 Arneis, Honea Vineyards

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The Honea Vineyard was started in 2002 for Palmina growing a mix of only Italian varieties on 20 acres.

The Arneis carries fresh, vibrant citrus blossom, nice salty minerality. It’s ripe in the mouth, with a good acidic mouth pinch, a floral nose and opening palate, and a salt and citrus finish. This wine is precise, and clean, with a pleasing texture.

Palmina Rosé

Botasea 2011 Rosato di Palmina

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Though previous vintages of the Botasea have offered a higher proportion of Nebbiolo, two vineyards of Nebbiolo were lost to frost, resulting in more Dolcetto currently being used in the Rosato as a result. The 2011 carries 50% Dolcetto, 25% Nebbiolo, and 25% Barbera.

There is a nice berry and white pepper, well integrated nose. The wine would work well alongside fuller foods offering a nicely dry presentation, medium acidity, and a medium long finish.

This wine was designed to work with foods like a lighter style red wine. It makes me want red meat and fries, and also does well alongside grilled tuna or smoked mussels.

Portions of the proceeds from this wine also go to Breast Cancer Research.

Palmina Red Wines

2010 Dolcetto, Santa Barbara County

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Fermented and aged in 50% neutral oak barrels, and 50% oak tanks, the Dolcetto is the most versatile of the Palmina wines doing well with a huge range of foods, or alongside your cooking process as you get food ready. Having first been made in 2004, it’s also proved to do well with some age, though designed to be drinkable young.

The goal of this wine is to aim towards the light side of things while offering rich flavors. It offers wild red berry notes with mixed pepper, a pleasing light mouth grip, and good freshness.

2010 Barbera, Santa Barbara County

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The Santa Barbara County blend of Barbera is meant to be a little more forgiving, and food flexible presentation of the Barbera varietal.

It smells and tastes like the fresh, juicy, lightly bitter crunch of raspberry and blackberry offering a juicy mouth, and pleasing watery, mixed pepper finish. This wine is dry in the mouth and well balanced.

2010 Barbera Alisos

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The Alisos presentation of Palmina Barbera shows a spicier, richer flavor and body than the Santa Barbara County blend. There is a light bitterness and cracked pepper element here integrated into a rich berry, and earthy note Barbera, all with a clean, watery finish.

2009 Alisos, Santa Barbara County

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Palmina’s first wine, the Alisos was designed to mimic a Super Tuscan style with 80% Sangiovese (10% of which was dried and then rehydrated before pressing), and 20% Merlot.

The passito grapes deepen and concentrate the fruit flavors here into dark raisin, alongside the juicy red cherry and raspberry notes. There are also classic Sangiovese elements of orange zest on the nose, and juice in the mouth. There is great food friendly acidity here.

2008 Undici

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100% Sangiovese, the Undici carries a dark nose, showing wonderful spice, orange zest, leather, tobacco, and red cherry. There is a light fresh finish, following a medium body of yum.

2009 Lagrein

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The Lagrein wants food, with meat proteins helping to bring out the range of flavors on the full bodied varietal. There is a rich mix of cigar box, red and dark fruit, and a pleasant drying mouth grip here. I’m a fan of this grape.

2007 Santa Barbara County Nebbiolo

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Spending 3 1/2 years in oak, and 1 year in bottle before release, the Santa Barbara County presentation of the Nebbiolo is meant to be the most approachable of the Palmina Nebbiolos. It loves air and wants a lot of time in decanter or glass after opening.

The wine shows violet, red fruit, lots of spice, and cracked pepper. it is nicely drying, with medium acidity, and a medium long finish.

2006 Stolpman Nebbiolo

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The Stolpman Vineyard Nebbiolo comes from a barbaresco clone grown in a limestone vein. It’s a wonderfully feminine presentation of strength and elegance with floral–violet and rose–spicy, and leather notes alongside cigar box.

2006 Sisquoc Honea Vineyards Nebbiolo

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A more sinewy, athletic version of Nebbiolo, the Sisquoc uses a Barolo clone. The structure here is tight and focused, while fluid, carrying raisin, date, juicy berry, and dried violet plus touches of musk.

2006 Honea Vineyard Nebbiolo

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In the Honea Nebbiolo the Barolo clone is grown in limestone taking the clone of the Sisquoc grown in the soil type of the Stolpman. There is a strength and fullness here, with a rich and tight presentation, though it is more open than the sinewy Sisquoc. The flavors here are rich leather, and cigar, with dried violet, spice, and cracked pepper.

Palmina Dessert Wine

2006 Santita, a Malvasia Bianca Appassimento

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A perfect biscotti wine made from grapes dried for a 120 days and then rehydrated. The wine is nutty, with dried white herbs, light oxidized notes, touches of molasses, date, dried fig, and dried apricot, as well as touches of dark toast. It is a lovely dessert-style wine offering the rich concentration of the style without the sweetness.

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

As I mentioned yesterday, my hosting site has changed. We’re getting the kinks worked out, but unfortunately, for now subscriptions have gotten a little askew. That is, currently, if you’d subscribed to my site before it moved your subscription isn’t forwarding posts to you. I apologize for the mix-up. I’m hoping the people I’m working with can help me fix this.

In the meantime, here’s more pics from our Lompoc to Arroyo Grande journey yesterday. Cheers!

Palmina and Brewer-Clifton

Thank you so much to Steve Clifton for taking so much time with us.

Thank you to Seth Kunin.

We were also fortunate enough to spend time with Brian Talley and Eric Johnson at Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande. I’ll post those pics tomorrow.

Cheers!

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com