2018 Combe Chenin Blanc
Region: Ballard Canyon < Santa Ynez Valley < California
Grapes: Chenin Blanc
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming, limestone soils, grapes crushed by foot in concrete then aged 8 months in neutral French barrel; bottled unfined/unfiltered; zero added SO2; zero-zero; 210 cases; 12% ABV
Winemaker: Raj Parr & Peter Stolpman
Famed somm turned winemaker Raj Parr has gone rogue, putting himself in the natural wine camp with his 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 grapes beyond those traditionally planted in California, like Pinot, Chardonnay and Syrah. He and Peter began experimenting with varietals from France's Loire and Jura regions, since both sites share the same limestone soils of the Stolpman estate vineyards. They struck gold.
Peter says: “the all-limestone soils and the arid, windy conditions of Ballard Canyon created the perfect storm for making a Chenin that has no mold/mildew." We’re loving this gorgeous wine, which feels opulent and special, with green apple and an electric bolt of lemon on top of flinty, smoky, toasty, and minerals notes. Despite having no added sulfur, it’s clean and pure, with a firm, crunchy structure. She drinks beautifully now, but most definitely has the legs for aging. A very special, limited edition wine. If you're a fan of classic Chenin, you must try Raj's Cali-meets-Loire version. It will not disappoint.