2014 Donkey & Goat ‘The Gallivanter’
Region: Sierra Foothills < California
Grapes: Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache Gris
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming, granite/limestone soil, minimal added SO2, unfined/unfiltered
Winemaker: Tracey & Jared Brandt
There are a handful of new California cool-kid producers who have changed the paradigm of conventional winemaking, marching to the beat of their own drummer. Jared and Tracey Brandt arguably invented this category, having been making natural, balanced and transparent wine out of the Berkeley cellar since 2004, before it was a thing. I love that they include an ingredient list on their labels, one that is remarkably short: grapes and minimal sulphur. They also talk extensively about their version of natural winemaking on their website, which includes gems like, “We generally like to follow the guideline that if we can’t ingest it then we don’t put it in the wine”, meaning no additives. And, “Every grape that goes into our wine goes down the sorting table where we examine the grapes and remove MOG (material other than grapes) like leaves, twigs, frogs, lizards, spiders, rats and occasionally buttons?!?!” Makes you wonder what other folks do, right? But back to the wine…this is a juicy, happy wine that manages to be both fruit-forward and plush, bursting with bright cherry fruit, and light on its feet, with plenty of zip and acidity. Something for everyone in this pretty wine.