Simple but Tasty California Gamay

Today’s Story: Jolie-Laide

Established by Scott Schultz, Jolie-Laide is a small, boutique winery crafting wines in Sebastopol, California. Jolie-Laide is a French term of endearment for something unconventionally beautiful that translates to “pretty-ugly,” and Scott decided to use it in naming his winery following experiences in the restaurant business. When he worked at Bouchon in Yountville, Scott realized that the majority of people didn’t seem to explore the wine list but rather stuck to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or Cabernet Sauvignon. He thought this was a travesty of sorts, given the wonderful varieties including Gamay, Valdiguié, Vermentino, or Trousseau Gris. Eventually Scott transitioned out of the restaurant business and found himself working alongside Pax Mahle, a wildly skilled winemaker in his own right. One year, Pax allowed Scott to make a wine of his own using 1-2 tons of fruit and he decided to use none other than Trousseau Gris because of how fascinating of a variety it is to him. Alas, Jolie-Laide was born and continues to produce magnificent and wildly fun wines today.

When it comes to sourcing his fruit, Scott works with farmers he has known for years who largely follow organic practices and work incredibly unique sites. After harvest, all of the Jolie-Laide red fruit is foot crushed and left whole cluster with some of the varieties (like Gamay) seeing carbonic maceration. Thanks to Scott’s selection of incredible sites, he can be pretty hands-off during the rest of the winemaking process and lets the terroir and fruit speak for itself. Scott lets his wines ferment naturally and, instead of using temperature control, says “we stick things in the sun if we need to get them warm” (source). Furthermore, Scott adds little SO2 when necessary in part because his wines tend to be bottled young to both preserve freshness in the fruit and provide barrels for the following year’s harvest.

I reviewed a number of wines from Jolie-Laide last year, but wanted to check back in with the Gamay bottling that I haven’t tried yet. For prior reviews, you can check out the 2016 Provisor Vineyard Grenache, 2019 Trousseau Gris, 2016 Halcon Vineyard Syrah, and 2017 Shake Ridge Vineyard GSM.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Barsotti Vineyard Gamay Noir

100% Gamay; 12% ABV

The 2019 Barsotti Vineyard Gamay Noir is pale ruby in color. Given some time to blossom in the glass, this opens with aromas of medium intensity and a nose that showcases notes of cherry, strawberry, red plum, cranberry, and dried underbrush. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity, with the palate displaying notes of ripe red cherry, strawberry, raspberry, licorice, dried green herbs, and cola. This dry red is light-bodied with medium (+) acidity, low tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium length finish. Though this is a very enjoyable and chuggable wine, I would like to see more depth and complexity to it especially on the nose.

Price: $30. I think this is priced fairly well given how high the quality is and how enjoyable it is to drink. While it’s not the most complex or expressive Gamay I’ve had, it’s perfect for warmer days when you want a red over a white.

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