2015 SSON Albariño Wentzel Vineyard
Region: Anderson Valley < Mendocino County < California
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming; Franciscan sandstone mixed with clay loam; hole cluster processed using a gentle champagne press for 3 hours; fermentation in stainless steel; bottled unfined with 15ppm SO2; 99 cases
Winemaker: James Wasserman
Most rookie winemakers take the plunge with popular grapes (you know, Cab, Chard, SB…) But when forestry major, long-distance runner and former restaurant consultant James Wasson threw his hat in the winemaking ring, he went out on a limb with Riesling and aromatic white varieties. And insisted on organic/family farmed fruit, a somewhat limiting requirement that led him to the Wentzel Vineyard -- and its bounty of Albariño -- in Anderson Valley. The result is a gorgeous and complex example of the Albariño grape, a native of Galicia and rarity in California – one that isn’t flabby or high-alcohol as most Cali attempts at this grape have been. This is the 2015 vintage, as James holds it back a bit – he says it started out angular and austere, but with some bottle age, the wine is finally coming into its own. You get an electric jolt of grapefruit, with a salty rim. Bright and punchy yet complete (thanks to the bottle age), James manages to bring out Albariño’s true varietal character in the wine. Like it’s Spanish brother, this wine is AMAZING with food, especially fish, yogurt-based sauces (hello, all Mediterranean food), greens and anything fried.