Strong Value Grenache From a Relatively New Californian Producer

Today’s Story: Newfound Wines

Newfound Wines is a family-owned and operated wine estate established by Matt and Audra Naumann in 2016. With backgrounds in the wine industry and a shared passion for agriculture, they established Newfound Wines as a 40 acre ranch, vineyard, and winery in the Sierra Foothills of California. In addition to their estate High View Vineyard which needed replanting in 2016, Newfound sources fruit from several other sites including Cemetery Vineyard and Colombini Vineyard in Mendocino County, Enz Vineyard in the Lime Kiln Valley, Scaggs Vineyard and Yount Mill Vineyard in the Napa Valley, and Shake Ridge Vineyard in the Sierra Foothills. They focus on the varieties of Grenache, Carignane, Mourvèdre, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Semillon with an emphasis on organic viticulture as well as minimal intervention winemaking in an effort to showcase each variety and terroir as purely as possible.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Grenache Gravels

100% Grenache; 13.9% ABV

The 2018 Grenache Gravels is medium ruby in color and I let this open up for about 30-45 minutes in the glass before I started drinking it. The aromas are of medium (+) intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of muddled strawberry, black raspberry, cherry, red plum, leather, dried green herbs, mint, and crushed rock. Meanwhile the palate displays notes of raspberry, tart cherry, blackberry, licorice, red rose, chalk, and cracked pepper with prominent mineral undertones. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium (+) and grippy tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.

Fruit is sourced from 85% Cemetery Vineyard in Mendocino County, 10% Scaggs Vineyard in Napa Valley, and 5% Yount Mill Vineyard in Napa Valley.

Price: $30. I think this offers very solid value for the price, as the depth is rather impressive at this stage and quality is certainly very high for an “entry” bottling. Though the tannins are slightly out of balance at this stage, I think they will resolve with another year or two and you’ll be left with a wine striking well above its price-point.

Off-Dry Riesling From California’s North Coast

Today’s Story: Benevolent Neglect

Benevolent Neglect is a small passion project of winemaking friends Matt Nagy and Ben Brenner. As the name implies, winemaking here is best called minimal intervention as Matt and Ben believe a winemaker is meant to translate what the vineyard provides and not come in with a heavy hand in the cellar. The team rarely uses new oak, they don’t use oak substitutes, and eschew additives common in many corners of the winemaking world. They also refrain from adding water or acidity to alter the wines’ natural balance. All reds are unfined and unfiltered, while some of the whites only see filtering. Benevolent Neglect sources their fruit from the Central and North Coasts of California as well as Napa/Sonoma, producing a range of wines that stretch from Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon to Rhône varieties and Ribolla Gialla.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Riesling

100% Riesling; 11.3% ABV

The 2018 Riesling is medium straw in color and transparent. Aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose displaying notes of lime, white peach, grapefruit, green apple skins, honeysuckle, and a small hint of petrol. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium intensity, while the palate displays notes of green apple, lemon and lime zest, crisp pear, honey, and saline. This off-dry Riesling (RS of 15g/L) is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium (-) alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $28 (often found closer to $40). I think for $28 this is a solid Riesling and a fun one to try given the minimally invasive winemaking style and region where it comes from. It lacks in intensity on the palate for me, but overall it’s an enjoyable and fun Riesling to try.

Restrained Carignan From Mendocino County

Today’s Story: LIOCO Wine Company

LIOCO Wine Company was established in 2005 by Kevin O’Connor and Matt Licklider. Kevin is a former Wine Director of Spago Beverly Hills and Matt is a wine importer and salesman by trade, but the two desired to create wines that are not as heavy-handed as many modern offerings but instead wines that exhibit a sense of place through minimal intervention winemaking. With European wines and more restrained Californian wines from the 1980s as guides, Kevin and Matt sought vineyards throughout Santa Cruz, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties with older vines and difficult climates to source their fruit. Though Pinot Noir and Chardonnay prove focal points for LIOCO, they also produce wines from Carignan, Valdiguie, Sauvignon Blanc, and occasionally other varieties that may pop up (like Syrah). LIOCO picks their fruit on the earlier side of ripeness and harvests by hand before the fruit travels to the winery in Santa Rosa under refrigerated conditions. Staying away from the big and bold California wines popular today, the winemaking process at LIOCO is as hands-off as possible, or non-interventionist. In 2017, Matt and Sara Licklider became sole owners of LIOCO and remain steadfast in continuing this philosophy.

To search through the range of wines offered by LIOCO, view the vineyards they source from and growers they work with, or see the source of the above information, check out the LIOCO website here.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Sativa Carignan

100% Carignan; 13.2% ABV

The 2016 Sativa Carignan is almost fully opaque medium purple in color with ruby hues. Given 30-45 minutes to open up, the wine blossoms to showcase a nose of raspberry, cranberry sauce, black cherry, licorice, dried rocky earth, savory herbs, dried underbrush, and cracked pepper. On the palate, I get notes of plum, black raspberry, cherry cola, purple florals, finely crushed rock, dried green herbs, and mild baking spice with beautiful minerality. This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Fruit for this wine is sourced from grower Jim McCutchen and his vineyards on Cloverdale’s Pine Mountain. The vines are 70+ years old and are head-pruned and dry-farmed at 2,200-2,400 feet elevation. Fermentation is 100% whole cluster and aging is 9 months in neutral oak plus 1 month in tank before bottling.

Price: $29 (might be able to find a few dollars cheaper). Though there are cheaper Carignan bottlings out there, I think this is a great value wine because the quality is excellent and its truth to variety and place is profound. I’ve had this wine before and I will buy it again.