2018 Two Shepherds Picpoul Blanc, Windmill Vineyard
Region: Dunnigan Hills <Yolo County < California
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming; gravelly alluvial soils; aged in 50% stainless steel, 50% neutral barrel for 8 months; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal added SO2; 150 cases; 11.4% ABV
Winemaker: William Allen
WHY IS THIS A UNICORN? Picpoul (rare in Cali) that is varietally-correct (that acid!) and crushes the oyster pairing as well as its French cousin, with more complexity and less heat.
William slings software by day, but his heart is in France. He was making wine in his garage and blogging about it, mostly Rhône varietals, for years before going pro with Two Shepherds, his two-person (and many animals) micro-winery. He works from purchased grapes, careful about organic, and models his wines on the French styles he loves, making tiny lots of old world, low-intervention bottlings from cool climate sites. Like Picpoul, a varietal native to southern France whose name means ‘lip stinger’ (referring to the grape’s typical raging acidity), of which he made a whopping 6 barrels or 150 cases, one of his larger production wines. William says, “Picpoul has been on my “hit list” for years, but it has taken until 2018 to be able to find the right source and availability”. Hence his joy in finding Windmill Vineyard, originally planted by Steve Matthiason, with rolling hills planted to Rhone and Bordeaux varieties alongside a glorious array of fruit trees. And our joy in finding a Picpoul from California (and certified organic!) that actually tastes like Picpoul, with mouthwatering acidity, zesty citrus aromatics, wet rock, gingersnap and minty spice. With surprising weight that belies its lean 11.4% frame. Your new go-to crisp white!