Sold Out 2016 EL JALEO, Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County
I’ve always felt there is a special magic at work in the blended red wines of Southern Europe, some almost mystical affinity that defies explanation. The most compelling wines of the Southern Rhone are great examples; none of the component varietal wines, on its own, can measure up to the astonishing result when they are blended, judiciously.
Not surprisingly, I think, the same can be said of wines that combine some of those same varieties grown in various parts of Spain. As an example, Rioja features both Grenache (as Garnacha) and Carignan (as Mazuelo), and adds in its grand and magnificent Tempranillo, along with the lesser known (and, really, secret weapon!) Graciano. Mourvedre, the mythic heartbeat of Bandol, and parts North, in France, also plays a soulful part in the reds of Southern Spain (as Monastrell).
Much of California features what has long been characterized as a “Mediterranean” climate, where all the grapes of Southern Europe seem very comfortable, and capable of producing wines of some distinction. As luck would have it, Shake Ridge Ranch has Grenache, Tempranillo, Graciano, and Mourvedre growing in various blocks on the property. And Shake Ridge, in my experience, is one of the most meticulously farmed vineyards in the state. Deciding to make a wine from the Shake Ridge grapes listed was the easy part.
I made up the proportions based on nothing more than intuition; you have to start somewhere, right? Given that the land itself (AND the farming) lends such a strong imprint of its own on the wine that grows there, the exact, correct proportions may not be identifiable! They may not even exist!
Then, there’s that label. El Jaléo. The Ruckus. (The Astonishing Result!)
FRUIT SOURCE: Shake Ridge Ranch is in the hills a few miles east of Sutter Creek, in Amador County. The vineyard was planted and is farmed by Ann Kraemer, veteran of many years of vineyard management, including numerous Napa Valley sites. Shake Ridge vineyards vary in elevation between 1,500 feet and 1,800 feet above sea level. Vineyard blocks are noteworthy for the steepness of the slopes, and the variety of soil-types.
WINEMAKING NOTES: Tempranillo and Grenache were harvested on Labor Day (September 5th) at an average of 23.6 Brix, with good acidity. Mourvedre and Graciano were picked 9 days later; average Brix was just over 21, also showing firm acidity, and moderate (3.48) pH. Proportions in the wine: 34% Grenache, 26% Tempranillo, 23% Mourvedre, 17% Graciano. Grapes de-stemmed, fermented open-top in small bins, grapes punched down manually twice a day. Pressed at dryness, into barrels that have held 16 previous vintages. All lots blended in December 2016. Racked out of barrel in mid-February 2017, and bottled May 10, 2017.
WINEMAKER’S TASTING NOTES: Dark, ruby-red color. Fresh, spirited, earthy nose of considerable complexity. Very focused flavors on the palate. Lovely, supple texture, and very good length to the finish. Should be quite something in three or four more years, and likely to be good for many years after. Alcohol: 13.3%
TOTAL PRODUCTION: 228 cases
PRICE: $29.00 – Sold Out
RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2017