2017 Combe Trousseau
Region: Ballard Canyon < Santa Ynez Valley < California
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming, limestone soils 30% whole cluster press, grapes crushed by foot in concrete then aged 8 months in neutral French barrel; bottled unfined/unfiltered; zero added SO2; 330 cases; 13% ABV
Winemaker: Raj Parr & Peter Stolpman
Famed somm turned winemaker Raj Parr has gone rogue, putting himself in the natural wine camp with his new collaboration with organic farmer/winemaker Peter Stolpman, called Combe (a French term for a small sheltered valley within a vineyard). A few years ago, Raj became convinced of Ballard Canyon’s potential for the pale red Trousseau grape, native of the Jura region in France, on the limestone soils of the Stolpman estate vineyards. His hunch was right. Peter says: “the all limestone soils and the arid, windy conditions of Ballard Canyon created the perfect storm for making a Trousseau that has no mold/mildew. Because the clusters are large and tight, and the skins are so thin, mold is always an issue in Jura, but here we have the opportunity to make the purest Trousseau in the world. We don't need to barrel age it long for oxidation/integration, and there is no need to preserve it because we bottle it within 6 months of harvest.” We’re loving the result, a gorgeous light-bodied red with bright red fruits and a funky, deep soul. Despite having no added sulfur, it’s clean and pure, with the flavor coming purely from the fruit, rather than mold and Brett which you often find in Trousseau from Jura. With sour cherry, red berry and that raw, sexy spiciness that comes from whole-cluster, this is the light red that keeps the party going long after dinner is finished.