2016 ‘Stowaway’ Red Blend
Region: Mendocino County < California
Grapes: Zinfandel, Carignan
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; Tallmage Vineyard in Ukiah, with dry-farmed vines planted in 1948 on the grounds of a Buddhist temple, on sandy-gravelly loam soils that are pretty recent alluvial fan deposits from Franciscan metamorphic rock of the surrounding hills (Randy is a geologist!); grapes co-picked and co-fermented, pressed into used Pinot barrels for 10 months; bottled unfined/unfiltered with 15ppm so2; 11.8% ABV; 120 cases
Winemaker: Randy Czech and Erin Mitchell
When our friends Erin and Randy were finally able to start their own label with the 2013 Bordeaux Blend, ‘Spider Chase’, we were thrilled. The only reason you’ve never seen it in a Rock Juice mix is the premium price (normal for top-quality, cool climate Cab) – so we’re over the moon that they’ve released a second wine, the Stowaway (named after a lizard that stole a lift in their grape transport truck). It’s mostly Zinfandel with some Carignan blended in, but technically a ‘table wine’ because the alcohol, at 11.8%, is actually too low! It is under the 12% minimum required by the TTB for a varietal or AVA label. Light in body and color, this one definitely goes down easy, but has a surprising amount of depth and substance. Let it breathe for a half hour or so, then pour liberally with all things holiday. Zingy, with a refreshing acidity rarely seen in Zinfandel, there will be no palate fatigue here. Bright, juicy strawberry and herbal mint balance out the acid, and a mocha-laced finish lingers pleasantly in your mouth. A complete and satisfying wine for fall, one that makes everybody happy. Especially with a 30-minute chill. If you love it, grab more now – only 120 cases made!