2018 Chenin Blanc - Calaveras
Vineyard: Rorick Heritage Vineyard
Rorick Heritage vineyard is one of the most fascinating vineyards for me. It was originally surveyed during the gold rush and copies of that survey are stored on the property today. They did not find any gold but they did find limestone out-croppings jutting up from the valley floor, surrounded by decomposed schist, which constitutes the hillsides on each side of the valley. The vineyard was first planted to Cabernet and Chardonnay. Although we may have grown a bit tired of the Cab/Chard domination in California, it is worth noting that these blocks were own-rooted and the chardonnay is of Wente origins. About twenty years ago, the Stevenot folks planted the surrounding hillsides with Zinfandel, Syrah, Viognier and other sun loving Rhone varieties. In 2012 Matthew Rorick and his family purchased the vineyard; all 70 planted acres of it, and began rehabilitating it. Part of the rehab included breaking down the large blocks by grafting many new varieties, including Mondeus, Riesling, and Chenin Blanc. What was once Viornier on a south facing aspect of schist and limestone at 2000 feet above sea level is now Chenin Blanc. He used budwood from the Story Vineyard farmed by Tegan of Turley and Sandlands fame. This is sought after fruit, and although several respected winemakers expected to be the recipients of this fruit, Matthew offered it to me. There are two acres planted. Three tons to the acre. Matthew takes five tons and I get the remaining ton. Our first vintage was 2016. Bears ate our 2017 vintage off of the vines (and most of Matthew’s, too) so this 2018 Chenin Blanc is the return of what we call Clalveras Chenin.
The fruit is foot trodden, basket pressed without sulfur. The must sits in tank for an overnight, ambient cellar temperature settle. The still cloudy juice is racked to a neutral Francois Freres 500 liter puncheon and undergoes an unaided fermentation. After a native malolactic fermentation the wine is very lightly sulfured (20ppm) and rarely topped. It remains in that state, on gross lees until bottled. The finished wine is light but broad on the palate. Sour, tart, silky and slightly oxidative.
Harvest date: August 23