2016 Amplify ‘Duke + Ella’ White Blend
Region: Santa Barbara County < CA
Grapes: 75 Riesling, 19 Viognier, 4 Muscat
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; gravel, sand + shale soils in the 3 different vineyards; Riesling is foot crushed, sees 4 hours on skins; Viognier aged 12 months sur lie, no stirring, in stainless tanks; Muscat is botrytised (left hanging until it gets the good fungus called “noble rot”), and Viognier is a small % of the 2014 added in for a bit of Solera effect; unfined/unfiltered, hand-bottled by gravity with 10ppm SO2; 44 cases produced; 13% ABV
Winemaker: Cameron and Marlen Porter
I had the pleasure of visiting Cameron Porter this summer at his production facility in Santa Maria, and taste his wines at the source – and was seriously blown away. Cam and his wife Marlen are making some of the best natural wines in Santa Barbara County under their brand, Amplify, working thoughtfully and respectfully, rather than dogmatically. Cam explains, “I don’t consider what we do non-interventionist. For me, it’s like any other piece of artwork. You start with this block of clay, and shape it into something. So, we’re maybe not intervening by adding yeast, acid, etc., but we are very clear about the direction we are taking these wines. We approach each vineyard, asking, “What does this want to be?” Though they’ve been at it since 2013, they still hold down full-time day jobs in the wine biz, focusing on Amplify every day before and after work, every day off, and hand-bottling/labeling all 550 cases. Their passion, and attention to detail, shine brightly in this wine, an electric blend of Riesling, Muscat and Viognier. Why the name “Duke + Ella?” Music is the couple’s other passion, so here they’re paying homage to two of their favorite artists, both of whom had big personalities but played well together, like the charismatic grapes in this wine. There is weight, richness and textural depth, but the backbone of neon bright acidity lights everything up, with ripe golden apple, stone fruit, lemon zest and loads of minerality.