Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Deep Roots Coalition's SF Tasting: The Organically Grown Wines

The Deep Roots Coalition is a band of Oregon winemakers who dry farm. They held a tasting yesterday in SF at Barcino for trade with "guest stars" John Williams from Frog's Leap. The wines featured here are all grown without irrigation. Many of the producers also label that fact on the back label of their wines.

Deep Roots is a great concept, but like so many wine classifications, it seems one dimensional. Some of the producers are not farming organically, and if wine quality and soil health matter, it's hard to understand that choice. (And do consumers really want to drink wine made from grapes whose roots have been treated with glyphosate?)

So yes, raise a glass to dry farming. But soil health and water retention are enhanced by organic farming. So if you are a lot about water as a resource, it's best to look at more than one dimension. That's true of a lot of one-factor wine movements of our times - Raw Wine (low sulfite levels), Glyphosate free (up to 10 ppb allowed), etc. etc.

Dry farming is a much more complex subject that invites further inquiry from buyers.

• Is it ok to till a lot of tillage in order to dry farm? Are there alternatives to tractor tillage? (i.e. animals)? Permanent cover crops (with just under vine cultivation) is a very popular choice.

• Or is it better to dry farm by planting less densely and on head trained vines, like Tablas Creek has done in its new 60+ acre vineyard in Paso Robles? (And like Philippe Coderey, a traditional vigneron from Provence, has done in new vineyards at Grimm's Bluff and Duvarita in Santa Barbara County?) There's more complexity to the concept of "dry farming" than meets the eye.

Is it good to get water use in vineyards more in the public eye? Yes, but the conversation should be a broader one, and one that's not just about Oregon winemakers. Most Californians would agree.

I'm not sure why Deep Roots is Oregon only since it's our state that traditionally faces drought and where consumer interest is high.

That said, I tasted through the dry farmed wines from certified organic or BD vines at the tasting and found a lot to like.

John Williams of Frog's Leap in Napa gives them hell at the Deep Roots Coalition
tasting in SF. His point? Napa farmers would get better flavors (but lower yields)
if they didn't irrigate and create shallow roots.

The Frog's Leap Zinfandel only gets better and better.
If ever there was an advertisement for Napa
tourists for Zinfandel, this is it.
OREGON WINES


It was great to finally taste face to face with Evesham Wood
owner and winemaker Erin Nuccio. The estate Le Puits Sec. Yes,
Wow. I get it now. (And for $40? Compared to many
Sonoma or California Pinots, that's a such deal).
We live in amazing times.


This is actually a single vineyard designate from
Temperance Hill. (And it says so on the back label).
Another Temperance Hill single vineyard designate.
The "same" vineyard has so many blocks and so many
expressions and interpretations.


My favorite wine at the tasting had to be the Sparkling
Blanc de Blanc from Johan vineyard's BD grapes.
I'm always looking for sparkling wines from organic
vines and they are few and far between from U.S.
producers. This is my new love! 

A totally new find for me: Eyrie's Trousseau (Noir). Done
as a bit of an experiment, I would say it's a total success.
I don't know of anyone else making this variety and
have only seen the white (Gris) version in California.
Only 300 cases made.
Other producers with organic or Biodynamic vines at the tasting include Brick House Vineyards and Brooks. I wanted to give a shout out to Brooks for their incredible Pinot Blanc from a newly certified Biodynamic vineyard in close proximity to Brooks' estate vines. Congrats on both the wine and the the Crannell family for seeking and getting certification. The best part, of course, is the taste of that wine! A great everyday wine - find it for $16 on wine.com.


                                                           CALIFORNIA WINES


California natural winemakers Les Lunes and Populis showed four dry farmed wines from Mendocino vines - two of them from old vines at Venturi Vineyards. I especially enjoyed the Wabi Sabi, a $22 red blend that's another great everyday wine.

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