2018 Stolpman 'Crunchy Roastie'
Region: Ballard Canyon < Santa Ynez Valley < CA
Grapes: Syrah + a tiny bit of ViognierVineyard/Cellar Stats: organic farming, loam and slate soil; carbonic fermentation then blended with a small amount of Viognier and aged a few months in neutral barrel; bottled unfined/unfiltered with no added Co2; zero-zero; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Peter Stolpman & Sashi Moorman
You know we’re big fans of the Stolpman family here at Rock Juice – in addition to working organically since day one, and producing wine in a very low-intervention way, they do something really cool and unusual: employ their vineyard workers year-round and full-time, as well as offer profit sharing. Says Peter, “We strive not only to make the best wine possible – we are also committed to creating a healthy, stable work environment for fifteen families. Proud, fulfilled people make better wine!”
We love the Stolpmans even more in recent years, as they've expanded their portfolio of classic central coast wines to include a range of vin de soif wines - those light, fresh bottles meant for daily drinking that are totally up our alley. This is their entry-level soif-y version of Syrah, one made with carbonic fermentation that is also sans soufre - they make another with extended elevage, called SYRAH SO HOT RIGHT NOW, that we're also featuring. Explaining why they made this wine, Peter says: "We enjoy French Syrah, especially wines from Cornas and St. Joseph, so we asked ourselves, “how can we make softer Syrah in Ballard Canyon? The 2019 debut vintage of Crunchy Rôastie represents the latest evolution in our pursuit to make fresh and delicate Syrah. The key is to pick Syrah early while still “crunchy”, with high acidity and low potential alcohol. Then, we utilize whole-grape, un-crushed carbonic fermentation so as not to extract coarse, under-ripe tannin – leaving the wine feathery and chill-able. To ensure a pure, luscious fruit profile we utilized the age-old Cote Rôtie method of co-fermenting a small percentage of viognier that heaps on pretty floral aromatics to the darker, brooding Syrah profile." This version sees no added So2; they make another version of this wine with a tiny amount of added So2, same label but rainbow lettering, but tasting side by side confirmed how much more open and expressive the wines are without sulfites dampening their mojo.
The color is inky, with blue, purple, and black fruit and smooth, soft tannins. Classic Syrah notes of olives, oregano and “roast” meats compliment the fruit purity from the nose all the way through to the seamless, soft finish. Deep enough to pair with grilled stuff, yet a slight chill reveals a crunchier, earther side that works with cheese or hearty veg dishes. As the bottle opens up with air, red fruit rises above the blue-black and a splash of freshness begins to lift the palate. There's a lot going on here for a light-ish, 12.5% ABV wine, which is good news, because it's also so delicious that you want to, and should, finish the bottle, even on a Tuesday night. Especially on an upcoming Tuesday night when a stressful election might necessitate such volume....and hopefully, a second bottle to celebrate impending change. Cheers to that thought!