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2019 Stolpman 'Uni'

2019 Stolpman 'Uni'

Regular price $30

Region: Ballard Canyon < Santa Ynez Valley < CA

Grapes: 70% Roussanne, 30% Chardonnay

Vineyard/Cellar Stats: organic farming, limestone soil; whole bunch crushed and left on skins for 2 hours; each varietal vinified separately in neutral barrel on fine lees and blended before resting in neutral 500L French oak puncheons for 10 months; bottled unfined/unfiltered with no added Co2; zero-zero; 13% ABV; 400 cases

Winemaker: Kyle Knapp

You know we’re big fans of the Stolpman family here at Rock Juice – in addition to working organically since day one, and producing wine in a very low-intervention way, they do something really cool and unusual: employ their vineyard workers year-round and full-time, as well as offer profit sharing. Says Peter, “We strive not only to make the best wine possible – we are also committed to creating a healthy, stable work environment for fifteen families. Proud, fulfilled people make better wine!” 

We love the Stolpmans even more in recent years, as they've expanded their portfolio of classic central coast wines to include a range of vin de soif and more experimental wines - styles that are totally up our alley.   Like this UNI, Peter and Jessica's ode to the sea urchin, a local delicacy which they love and set out to create a wine specifically made to pair with it.   
Peter explains the process: "First, we would think about the totally unique texture, and then the delicate, nuanced ocean flavors – where would one begin?  Thankfully, the UNI wine fell into our laps.  For me, Roussanne is the richest, most decadent white grape in the world and those traits are amplified on the Limestone soils of our Santa Barbara County vineyard.  Because of the moderate, unsheltered-ocean influence here, we have one of the longest growing seasons in the world of wine.  We typically harvest Roussanne, a historically slow ripener, in late October, often into November.  Picking is done over a two week period, carefully selecting the perfectly gold “Rousse” grapes.  The meticulous harvesting comes on top of a ton of work babying the vines – including leafing any shade away from the clusters, and hand-rotating the clusters on the vine once the exterior-facing side turns gold.  Straight up Roussanne marries exquisitely with the texture of Urchin, but its fruit concentration can overpower the delicate flavor of those magic tongues.  By adding crisp, mineral-driven early-harvested Chardonnay, we lift the wine up – giving it bright savory notes that better bond with that urchin magic.


Head winemaker Kyle Knapp delivered the final touch to this wine.  I’ll never forget walking into the winery and he had two glasses perched on separate barrels– one – a clear golden hue – and the other with a more yellow, fine translucent glowing mist.  The latter had all the delicate flavor of the clear glass, but the rich texture had an additional coat through the mouth – it immediately took my brain to the taste and sensation of our local urchin.  It turned out, Kyle had stirred the fine lees of one barrel as an experiment, and we ended up stirring the entire lot and bottling unfiltered."   

We have nothing to add to this excellent overview, except that this is a magical, ethereal wine with a featherweight richness that briefly coats the tongue before the wave of salinity washes it away.  It's kind of like an unfiltered Sake, with fuzzy pear, tangerine and tropical fruit.  We've yet to pair with sea urchin, but can attest to its affinity for all sorts of seafood -- scallops, shrimp, calamari -- as well as green things like asparagus and butter lettuce salad.  

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