2016 Los Chuchaquis Lime Kiln Valley Old Vine Rose
Region: San Benito Canyon < California
Grapes: Mission, Mataro, Carignan, & Orange Muscat
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; dry-farmed, own-rooted 90-120 year-old vines (planted in 1895 + 1922); sand + decomposed granite soil; primary and malolactic fermentation occurred naturally in tank; after 5 months on the lees, the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered with <25ppm SO2; 12.5 % ABV; 58 cases
Winemaker: Ryan Stirm + Andrew Nelson
Los Chuchaquis (choo-CHA-keyz) is a small project from Stirm Wine Co’s Ryan Stirm, whose Riesling we featured a few months ago, and my friend, wine slinger/Riesling fiend Andrew Nelson. Originally planted in 1895, the Enz vineyard is located in the shadow of the Gabilan mountains in Lime Kiln Valley, inland from Santa Cruz near San Juan Bautista, where Andrew’s grandfather, Manuel Botelho, farmed apple orchards. Farming of the 28-acre vineyard, originally planted to Iberian varietals – Mataro (Mouvèdre), Carignan, Mission, Palomino, & Orange Muscat – fell under the care of Ryan Stirm in 2016. Pesticides or herbicides have never been used in the vineyard, and, since many of the vines are 90-120 years old, everything is completely dry-farmed. Andrew and Ryan do everything by hand, from bottling and affixing labels (some of the coolest label art I’ve come across, designed by their tattoo-artist friend) to schlepping the wine from Santa Cruz to us in SF. So much love and care, along with the extraordinary age of the vines, comes across in this complex field blend of red + white grapes – there is a certain seriousness, gravitas even, that urges one to sip slowly and savor all that is going on in this gorgeous package. It’s savory, herbal and textural, with wild Mediterranean herbs, sour cherry and watermelon, and a long, dry finish. One of our favorite discoveries in this whole Cali mix!