2019 Vinca Minor Mendocino Red Wine
Region: Redwood Valley < Mendocino < California
Grapes: Carignan, Zinfandel, Sangiovese
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming; dry-farmed, old vines; de-stemmed, spontaneous fermentation in small open-top fermenters, juice is pressed into old French oak, aged for 16 months; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal So2; 13% ABV
Winemaker: Jason Charles
SF resident Jason Charles caught the wine bug waiting tables post-college in New York City restaurants. After working in vineyards in Saint Emilion (Bordeaux) and the Sonoma Coast, he started the Vinca Minor label to “explore the intersection between farmer, winemaker and artist.” He farms organically, and makes the wines as naturally as possible, always working with indigenous yeast, never filtering or fining, and adding a minuscule amount of SO2 only at bottling. And he now has a tasting room in Berkeley!
Jason is known for his impeccable understanding of Carignan. This quote from natural wine proponent and critic Alice Feiring pretty much sums up Jason’s Carignan: “If only California would wake up to the Carignan truth for their region. They should worship the grape. This wine is one reason why. stem inclusion, iron edge, freshness but sun. Only 100 cases of it but this, my friends, is a wine.” Jason started last year with a dry-farmed plot of very old Carignan vines in Redwood Valley, which he presses whole cluster and basically leaves alone until he bottles by gravity into recycled American bottles for this field blend that shows off how beautifully Carignan harmonizes with the other principal red NorCal grapes. The old-vine trio captures the Redwood Valley of Mendocino perfectly; a little mossy, full of sunshine and soul. This wine is bold and structured yet balanced, with notes of spice, flowers, and minerals and velvety tannins. Will age for 10+ years, but gorgeous now.