2016 Thee & Thou Albariño ‘Andrus Island Vineyard’
Region: Sacramento < CA
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; sandy soils, cool nights from the bay/ocean air getting pulled into the Central Valley; pressed whole cluster, fermented for about 7 days in a poly tote, then neutral barrel for 3 months where it went through full malo; bottled unrefined/unfiltered; 95 cases
Winemaker: John Donaghue
Skyscraper building engineer turned natural wine rising star, John Donaghue got his start working under Clos Saron’s Gideon Beinstock, one of California’s natural wine trailblazers. Making wines that are light on their feet and yet incredibly complex out of his winery on Treasure Island, John uses the same low-intervention techniques, neutral oak, and native ferments that were ingrained in him at Clos Saron. Like most upstart Cali winemakers, John doesn’t own vineyards, so he casts a wide net to find clean fruit and old vines in NorCal’s outlying regions. Take this Albariño, for example, from an old vineyard way down in the levees in the Delta south of Sacramento. It’s not an AVA, or even remotely a wine region. And Albariño, a Spanish grape, is rarely found in California – it’s just not cold and wet enough here, in general. But somehow it works here, thanks to the cool nights and frequent fog. Soft and soulful, it smells faintly of peaches but tastes like salty lemon ginger honey drops. Fantastic with turkey or chicken dishes with lots of herbs. Or roasted root veggies.