I believe that 90% of a wine’s quality is already determined by the time the grapes come into the winery. It’s the reason my assistant Malaco and I do so much work in the vineyard and then my role is mostly not to mess it up! The Sencillo wine (Spanish for “simple”) doesn’t really allow too much to be done with winemaking techniques though, as I have wanted to make the wine without overt oak flavors or without any buttery notes that come through secondary fermentation. This is our crisp white wine to emphasize just what the vineyard can give us.
With this vintage I have added a new element and that is to build up texture in the wine using a relatively new style of barrel. Normally I use barrels that have been used for many years and they don’t impart any oak flavor (neutral barrels). I still do this but did try a larger format “ovonum” barrel whose shape purportedly causes the yeast to stay in constant suspension for a long period and this adds texture into the white wine. In Chardonnay I might do this by occasionally stirring the yeast back up into suspension, but here the egg shape does this without the need to stir. It might be just a good story (and the wine industry is full of good stories that aren’t true!), but the results have been so impressive that I’ve ordered another.
The style is a crisp and clean white wine to have with shellfish, chicken, and salads. Simple in concept but not in flavor, this version shows the stone fruit character of our Estate Viognier together with the floral and citrus characters of Riesling from “The Gables” vineyard in Santa Rosa. As both vineyards are getting a little older, I have noticed more depth in flavors and this vintage is our best effort by far. Is this because of the vintage, the ovonum or vine age? I really don’t know but I intend to put aside enough bottles to “research” the issue over the next 2-3 years when I think it will be at its best.