Did an angel lose it's wings? Did a cigarette kick the butt? Or did the revolution in American Wine just get a littlel stronger, longer and ...Hardy? Wait, let me uncork a bottle of Bereche pere et fis. (pop, fizz, ploop, ploop, ahh.)
I finally got to taste the much anticipated wines from the cherub of the west (by way of Massachussets and Georgia) the inimitable Hardy Wallace (Dirty) and his friend Matt (Rowdy).
Hardy, who has turned ADD-kind of energy into an asset, has been on the most interesting path since he escaped the south by winning a public audition in a promotional job search by Murphy-Goode. He soon jumped ship to follow the wines that motivated him to get out of bed with a cherubic smile. That took him to Kevin Kelley (Salinia) and helped start up the NPA project, of bringing natural wines, deliverable milk-bottle model. Then in his alternative to wine school path, he went north, west, and all around, doing crazy stints in Bordeaux and ending up looking for love, (found) grapes, land, eggs and truth.
What this means, is that there is yet another fledgling winemaker joining the new winemaking ranks of Los Pilares, La Clarine, Ambythe, Schollium Project, Angela Osborne, Martian, Broc, Donkey & Goat, Arnot-Roberts, Ryme Cellars...to name just a few. Not that big wine is going away any time soon, but there's way more choice than there used to be. More people are side-stepping UCDavis, tuning onto this no add thing, and looking for wines at lower alcohol and high on grace. Drinking gets better and better in the states. And you know what? Just in 2008 I thought the situation was near hopeless. Now all we need is some more wines at friendlier price points.
that was last summer, the morning after a lot of Tempier @ Hank and Caro's place. (La Clarine Farm. Thanks again, H & C, for a fab stay.)
I did like it. It had a freshness, and was an easy drinking wine, but with the lack of structure I think of with that part of the counry. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with different soil, when he gets his Shake Ridge fruit.
Dirty and Rowdy 2011 Napa Valley Semillon
I'm still not sure why they boys wanted to work with semillon, from Napa no less, especially expensive fruit. So I asked him.
I was planning on getting a few rows of Compagni Portis Vineyard (used by Arnot-Roberts for their old vine white blend), but the 2011 yield was so low, that AR needed to keep the entire block-- At first we were bummed, but it isn't up to us.
We purchased a Nomblot egg in the Summer to use for the old vine white wine- with Compagni Portis out, we needed to find another white- (mid-september when most everything was spoken for)
In our scrambling, I saw a post offering a few tons of Semillon from a farmer I've known since 06- Tom Gamble. All organic, his family has farmed the land for 3 generations, I like him and trust him.
Semillon was far from a white that I ever thought about making (kind of like how I fell into Mourvedre), and the connection with Tom just felt like fate.
The wine was divided into 2 separate, native fermentations- 1 portion was pressed and fermented in a concrete egg. The second portion was destemmed and skin fermented in an open top fermenter (foot tread or punched down 1-2x a day).
The skin fermentation portion was put into neutral French oak after primary fermentation, and the concrete fermented portion was put into neutral French oak after secondary fermentation.