2020 Old Westminister Sparkling Piquette/Verjus ‘You are my Sunshine’
Region: Maryland < USA
55% Verjus, 25% piquette blanc, 10% piquette rouge
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; bottled without fining or filtering with minimal (if any) added So2; 5% ABV
Winemaker: Lisa Hinton
We're big fans of Maryland's Old Westminister Winery, run by three siblings. Drew Baker, the vineyard manager, explains the origin story: "In 2009, family discussions began on how to preserve our farm and put the land to work. We were abducted by the idea of planting a vineyard. We all agreed that growing and making wine that reflects our land through a vineyard was an exciting proposition." So, they researched, traveled, tasted and consulted, and made it happen by 2011, when they planted their first vineyards. Their first vintage was 2013, and now they produce 30,000 bottles total, with everything done by hand, grown in Maryland and farmed organically. Middle sis Lisa, a chemist by training, started making the wine for her family's project when she was just 23!
They make both traditional wine and a style called piquette, which is a low-alcohol wine made from the second pressings of grape pomace. We love piquette not only for its low ABV, refreshing qualities but also because it's super eco-friendly - after all, this is literally wine made from the scraps. Nothing wasted! But this pretty coral colored elixir is like the whole hog version of wine, using all of the parts, including the ones not up-to-snuff for wine. Like the grapes that just didn't get ripe enough, which are pressed to make verjus, the high-acid, low-alcohol juice from the pressing of these unripe grapes. The verjus is blended with piquette, both red and white, to make a super light, low ABV sparkler - a total unicorn!.
And a very delicious, limited edition one, tasting like a liquid Jolly Ranchers with watermelon and zesty lime. It's soft, with gentle acidity, and super low alcohol, making it so easy to drink it could seriously pass for juice. Be careful, it goes down super easy, and hide it from the kids.