After all the strange and difficult events of 2020, I, for one, am crossing my fingers that it might be an anomalous year, and that things might be calmer in some regards in 2021. We entered the 2020 growing season with less than a third of normal rainfall in the winter that preceded it. In mid-August a freakish “dry thunderstorm” ignited thousands of wildfires around the state of California. I am fortunate that all the grapes I am vinifying come from the upper reaches of the Sierra Nevada foothills, and that no such fires were burning any closer than 130 miles of those grapes.
Even so, there was smoke in the air close to those vineyards for some time before all our grapes were picked.
Our first pick, on the 24th of August, was at Witters’ Vineyard; we harvested just over three and one-half tons of Gamay there that morning. The fruit was wonderfully ripe at very modest sugar level: 20.4 Brix. pH was 3.28, total acidity slightly over 7 grams per liter.
Grapes were whole-cluster pressed, and, after settling overnight, the juice was transferred to a small stainless tank to ferment.
Gamay was picked from three separate blocks at Barsotti Ranch on September 2nd, at numbers very close to those from Witters: Brix was 20.3, ph 3.28, and acidity at 6.7 grams per liter. It, too was whole-cluster pressed, and the juice was transferred to stainless to ferment, after settling overnight.
Fermentations began on their own, and proceeded easily over a couple of weeks, to dryness. The tank was chilled down to around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and a bit of SO2 was added to block malolactic. The wine, however, had its own ideas, and for the first time ever, our rosé underwent malolactic anyway! (It seems to have been, speaking of anomalies, one of those strange years when the grapes have a much lower level of malic acid, and it takes almost nothing to push the malo through; it happened with our white wine from 2020 also.)
The wine stayed on primary lees for just over three months, and was subsequently racked twice (once for blending the two lots) prior to bottling, on the 21st of January.
2020 seems to have been a year that produced rosés somewhat lighter in color than previous vintages, though it didn’t seem that the grapes were deficient in pigment. Our Gamay rosé has a lovely light pink color, with just a whisper of blue at the edges. The aromas are pretty, fresh and ebullient; a gleeful mix of spice and fruit, very typical to this Gamay.
On the palate the entry is lovely, highly energetic layers of spice, pretty berry fruit, a savory highlight of pepper, and pulsing with firm, lively acidity. The finish is long, riveting, and thirst-provoking. For a wine that has been in the bottle so few days, this is really quite a pleasure; a few weeks of settling down in the bottle should have it singing nicely for your supper. (It reminds me, in its just-bottled state, of the 2017 Bone-Jolly Gamay Rosé, for balance and ebullience, its Jouissance! But it seems to have an extra dimension, which I’m inclined to attribute, at least in part, to the completion of the malolactic fermentation; there’s a savoury element there that provides a smattering of underlying gravitas. On the other hand, perhaps in a wine from a year like 2020 (or maybe every year), there is no jouissance sans gravitas.
$25 per bottle (roughly 400 cases bottled)