2021 Gearhead Princess Holidaze Pet’Nat
Region: Lodi + San Benito < California
Grapes: 60% Picpoul Blanc, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; Merlot was tread whole cluster and fermented carbonically, then added into the Cabernet early on; Cabernet was de-stemmed, tread and punched down twice a day for 10 days; Picpoul fermented carbonically then was pressed with the Merlot; the Cab was pressed and the juice blended then bottled October 8th, un-disgorged, with nothing added (zero-zero); 13.2% ABV; 110 cases
Winemaker: Craig West
Our buddy Noel of Purity turned us on to his buddy, Craig West, who makes wine at Noel’s Richmond facility for his upstart natural wine label, Gearhead. Craig was a fisherman and a baker for Acme Bread, but when he met Noel and started helping him with production, he decided that this was his calling and pivoted to wine. Now he makes tiny lots of wine from organic farming, all foot tread, many with carbonic maceration, and all sans added sulfur.
Craig is scrappy like most of the new natty crew in California, and searches high and low for organic fruit to purchase. For the next installment in his wildly popular Princess pet'nat series, he blended Picpoul Blanc with Merlot and Cab to make a deep, dark sparkling red that literally bursts with Christmas spice. No joke, this is exactly what they'd serve at Elf holiday parties. Here's what Craig has to say about this wine: "Hoildaze is one of two projects this year with Cab + Merlot, some of which is is now resting peacefully in barrel to become a still wine next year, and the rest goes into this pet'nat. The Merlot came in hot with tons of acid so I forked some into the Cabernet early on and everything went carbo. The Merlot/Cab comes from the Siletto Family Vineyard, a new one I started working with this year, and I love the owner, John Siletto. The Picpoul from Lodi's Bokish vineyard came in looking a little tired as they had some rain, but it turned out fine. Picpoul and Merlot were pressed together, then Cab the next day, then we blended the juice. Daniel (the son that I never had!) and I bottled 110 cases into the wee hours after pressing."
Bright and lifted, with crunchy black and red fruit, the tannins are softened by the carbonic action, and the bubbles seem to lift and amplify the bright fruit. And like any good set of bubbles, this wine has acid in spades, cutting through any fat like a pro. Pair with pizza, cheese, or anything fried.