2020 American Wine Project Wit & Wisdom Piquette
Region: Mineral Point < Wisconsin < USA
Grapes: La Crecent
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming at both vineyards; 24-hours on well water, pressed, 3 weeks in stainless barrels; bottled un-disgorged, with no added So2; zero-zero; 7% ABV
Winemaker: Erin Rasmussen
A native of the Great Lakes region, Erin grew up in Madison, Wisconsin experiencing the intense pleasure of seasonal produce and handcrafted cheese. Her interest in flavor grew into a passion for fermentation and wine, and in 2008 she relocated to Napa Valley to pursue winemaking. She got her graduate degree in winemaking and viticulture in New Zealand in 2012 then returned home in 2017 to explore the complexities of cold-climate winemaking with her super cool American Wine Project. She opened a winery in Mineral Point, about 30 minutes west of Madison, using grapes only from within a five-hour driving radius, meaning they are all in the Midwest, and mostly from Wisconsin.
Her goal? "Let the grapes speak for themselves," she said.
There isn't much Wisconsin wine, but when Wisconsinites think of local wines, they usually think of sweet, Rasmussen said. But thanks to modern technology and hybrid-grape growing, Rasmussen knows Wisconsin wines don't have to be sweet.
Take her Wit & Wisdom red Piquette, for example, which uses the skins and must from first pressings of all of the different red grapes plus some La Crescent (a white) pomace to do a second press with pristine well water, resulting in the lower-ABV wine-like beverage known as piquette -- a modern wine cooler of sorts. Though the concept is far from modern, dating back to Roman times and produced through the ages for farm workers, as a lunch beverage that wouldn't get them drunk (and less productive). Here the La Crescent functions much like viognier in northern Rhone blends - it lifts the fruit, and leaves an intriguing tang on the palate.Neon red and punchy, this one is like a light, fizzy sangria of raspberry, bitter orange, tart cranberry and citrus. Raw, alive and totally crushable, this is picnic juice, day drinking juice, late night refreshment -- an anywhere, anytime tipple that won't knock you down, even if you finish the whole bottle...