Contra Costa County
2018 Old Telegram
Old Vine Mourvèdre
$45.00 per bottle / $486.00 per case
$38.25 per bottle / $432.00 per case (Members)
From the nose, one scents licorice, blood(!) (make that very rare meat), blackberries (both berry and leaf), wet earth. There is a definite scent of beef bouillon, one of the absolute true signifiers of (proper) Mourvèdre. On the palate, the tannins are very plush and soft, almost a sense of sweetness (emphatically no R.S. in this), but with a really vibrant acidity and very great length. We somehow skirted the peril of over- ripeness and raisination, which is always a bit of a peril in the sunny climes of Antioch, CA. The wine is rich but also quite elegant at the same time.
We have purchased grapes from the Enea Vineyard in the sandy terroirs of Antioch for many years and have always found this shy-yielding vineyard to ripen as much as two weeks earlier than the other Mourvèdre vines in the neighborhood. I suspect that there is substantially less clay underlying the sand, resulting in diminished water-holding capacity and hence a bit more hydrologic stress on the vines, with resultant concentration in the fruit itself. A high percentage of sand in the soil limits the viability of phylloxera, and these very old (100+ year) vines have never seen rootstock.
Now it can be told. As much as we love the fruit from the Enea vineyard - it is always the most concentrated and vibrant Mourvèdre we see - we have been habitually plagued by some of the ambient bacterial flora that hitches a ride along with the grapes. As a result, even with reasonable use of SO2, we have with almost vintage seen volatile acidity levels mount during and immediately after fermentation. Not that a little bit of VA is necessarily a bad thing, but these grapes represented a unique challenge. This vintage we experimented with a technique of ozone treatment of the grapes before harvest, wiping out the indigenous microflora and inoculating both with cultured yeast and malolactic culture. I am as much for doing things naturally whenever possible, but in this instance, our enological intervention was certainly the wiser course. Volatile acidity well in hand without the need for major SO2 additions. Success!
Food Pairing Notes
Wine-braised lamb shanks with herbes de Provence. Enoki mushroom tempura with soy-based dipping sauce. Hoisin-marinated chicken breasts served with wild & brown rice medley. Wild mushroom & thyme pizza. Pork shoulder. Beef short ribs.