Thursday, June 18, 2020

Ballard Canyon's Beckmen Vineyards Launches Its First Natural Wines from Its Biodynamic Vines

Steve Beckmen of Beckmen Vineyards has gone natural - as in wine, that is.

Growing biodynamic wine grapes since 2002, Beckmen has produced hundreds of wines from his Ballard Canyon vineyard for 18 years, but this time, it's different - 1Ingredient consists of two skin fermented, white wines under the winery's new 1Ingredient label.

"As its name implies, 1NGREDIENT is wine made from one ingredient, biodynamically certified wine grapes," said Beckmen. No additives or preservatives (including sulfur) are used in the winemaking process.

"Besides the tractors we used to farm the blocks for 1NGREDIENT and the fuel we used to transport the grapes to the winery, these wines were crushed and bottled by hand. Except for the sorting, destemming, and the corker we used to make sure each bottle has the best possible seal, there was no other modern machinery used in making these wines" he said.

The first releases of 1NGREDIENT are both extended skin contact white wines, 2018 Viognier Ballard Canyon ($65) and 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Ballard Canyon ($48).

The grapes were fermented in Amphora made by TAVA in Northern Italy.

Said Beckmen, "We worked with TAVA to create these special vessels for our project focusing on the right mix of sand as well as defining the correct temperature the pots were fired at to ensure the right amount of oxygenation during fermentation and aging."

"We chose amphora as a look to the past as we tried to utilize practices that were used ages ago when wine was made without additives and the fancy machinery that we use in today. These specially designed amphora provided a perfect neutral vessel to ferment and age this type of wine, allowing the character of the grapes, vineyard and winery to shine through in each bottle."

The wine was fermented and aged on its skins for 10 months.

"The 1NGREDIENT wines are not fined or filtered and are bottled with a haze which protects the wines from premature oxidation," Beckmen said,

"This technique is an unusual way to produce white wine," he added. "The skins contain anti-oxidative compounds that allowed us to bottle the wine without the use of sulphur dioxide, the main preservative used in winemaking. White wines with long skin contact not only pick up the anti-oxidative properties of the skins but also extract tannins that help bolster the structure needed for the wine to age over a long period of time."

Beckmen tasted the wines over a period of several days, as they evolved in the bottle. Here are his tasting notes on the Viognier's progression:

Day 1: "Exotic, complex flavors of fresh ginger, caramelized apricot, jasmine, and citrus fruits lead to an elegant, round mouthfeel with balancing acidity and light tannins. Citrus fruits, floral, brisk peach, and a hint of coco highlight the flavors with good length and structure that carry the flavors on a long finish."

Day 2: "This has opened up to reveal more varietal fruits of apricot, peach, flowers, and spice on the nose... still super elegant with nice roundness balanced by some good acid and light tannin. More fruit coming through in the mouth as well with flavors of apricot, stone fruits, citrus, spice, and still a hint of coco...fresh and amazing..."

Day 3: "...still fresh and vibrant both on the nose and in the mouth. The mouth is where it impresses me, it is so elegant and pretty in texture and flavor, and seems like it will continue to develop and age nicely for the long term. A white that should be aged for a year or two, and decanted for an hour or two prior to drinking. This wine will easily age for 20+ years or more."

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