Master of the Dooniverse Survival Pack
ONE BOTTLE EACH
2018 Vin Gris de Cigare Réserve (62% Grenache, 38% Mourvedre)
$26/bottle (Member Price $20.80)
It has typically been our practice to age the Vin Gris Reserve en bonbon, but in 2018 the grapes from the Texas Vineyard in West Paso Robles were so singular in their nature, it seemed appropriate to choose a slightly different route. Paso Robles, even on the westside is quite warm, the Texas Vineyard was essentially dry-farmed, coming off of a very dry winter. All of these factors combined to create the smallest clusters and berries of the most concentrated Grenache and Mourvedre one could imagine. (Essentially, the vines reached a certain point in their development and were so stressed they stopped producing sugar.) The grapes had plenty of acid and were not at all shriveled or raisinated; they were just done. We pressed the fruit with the lightest possible touch (no crushing at all) to be careful not to extract excess phenolics, and the juice was barrel fermented, again to soften any potential astringency. The result is an extremely powerful pink wine, revved up with energy, and ready to go a very great distance, possibly well into the mid-21st century (if we live that long).
2016 Le Cigare Blanc Réserve (67% Grenache Blanc, 33% Roussanne) $45/bottle (Member Price $36)
From the redoubtable Beeswax Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco, of course. The ‘16 vintage was a relatively short crop and as a result we observed a significant concentration effect. The typical flavor components from this vineyard all present and accounted for - pome fruit, above all, Asian pear and quince, along with a non-trivial suggestion of fennel and faintest hint of spearmint. (And the ubiquitous quality of beeswax from the eponymous vineyard.) The lees stirring regime has given this wine rather significant length and persistence. The wine was bottled without filtration, and my expectation is that it will live a very, very long time, indeed.
2011 Le Cigare Volant Réserve (37% Mourvedre, 34% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 9% Cinsaut) $65/bottle (Member price $52)
This was the fifth vintage of our Réserve Cigare and a particularly successful one in light of the cooler year - always one to bring out the higher registers of aromatics. A beautiful deep violet robe, not quite saturated color but nary a suggestion of rust. The first nose is peppermint, cherries and of course, deep loamy earth, almost the scent of decaying leaves. But what really strikes one about this wine is its extraordinary texture - seamless and sleek. One has to be a little careful in extended lees ageing lest the umami quality overwhelm the wine, and I believe we hit the ‘11 right at the sweetest spot. (Remember, lees are the wine’s Jiminy Cricket; the wine remembers.)
2018 Riesling to Live (Sparkling Riesling) $35/bottle (Member price $28)
This wine is a reprise of a wine that we produced back in 2006 from the Ca’ del Solo Vineyard in Soledad, but in this instance, we’ve substituted the brilliant very old vine (ungrafted) Riesling fruit from our friend, Pat Wirz, in the Cienega Valley of San Benito County. Pat’s Riesling fruit was a major component of the Pacific Rim bottlings that we did for many years. Its hallmark characteristic is the distinctive lemony quality it reliably imparts. Pat farms organically and without irrigation, so there is a preternatural level of intensity to his fruit and a searing acidity - just perfecto for sparkling wine. We whole-cluster pressed the grapes very gently and after sixteen months en tirage bottled the wine Nature, which is to say with no additional dosage. The Germans call this style of wine Sekt, a largely and tragically unknown category to most. We can’t really say this publicly but Riesling to Live will definitely promote Sektual healing, pace Marvin Gaye.
2013 Syrah, Bien Nacido Vineyard, "X-Block" $50/bottle (Member Price $42.50)
Bien Nacido in Santa Maria Valley is a very tony neighborhood, vitaceously speaking. I have long (possibly erroneously) believed that the clone of Syrah planted in the X-block (the "Estrella River" clone) was in fact be identical to "Serine", the aromatic Syrah variant of Côte Rôtie. I now believe that it is a particularly expressive clone - certainly my very favorite of those currently grown in California - likely of Hermitage origin. But to the point, Syrah does its very best work when grown on very cool sites, which, of course, pace global climate change, still accurately describes Bien Nacido.
2018 Cinsaut, Bechtold Vineyard $42/bottle (Member Price $33.)
Sheer happiness in a glass. Everything about this wine is just right. The color is an enchanting ruby hue, and upon pouring, the fragrance explosively leaps out of the glass. The Cinsault comes from what is believed to be the oldest vineyard in California, the Bechtold Vineyard in Lodi, approximately 140 years old; the wine was aged in 130 gallon older, neutral puncheons and minimally handled. Cherries and mulberries, most significantly with a slightly pungent peppery strawberry kicker. On the palate, weightless elegance, at the same time showing extreme persistence. This wine charms the way the brilliant wines of Jura do. The wine is attempting to sublime into the aetheric realm, yet rooted with a sort of doon-to-earthiness that can only come from grapes borne by very, very old vines.