Eleven Lesser Known California Natural Wines To Tryout
Photo Courtesy Of John Storey, Special To The Chronicle
Ever drank natural wine in the Bay Area? Chances are you’ve come across the wines of Broc, Donkey & Goat, Clos Saron, La Clarine Farm and the wineries of the Coturri family: Sonoma Mountain Winery, Cote des Cailloux and Coturri.
Here are a few that might not be as familiar. — E.M.
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Stirm: One of The Chronicle’s 2017 Winemakers to Watch, Ryan Stirm produces savory, highly expressive Rieslings from the Central Coast.
Absentee: This new project from Avi Deixler, based in Point Reyes Station, is barely 2 years old, but his savory Carignan and floral Syrah from Mendocino County show promise.
Frenchtown Farms: Aaron and Cara Mockrish farm a small property in northern Yuba County. Look for their Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier blend, called the Pearl Thief, and 19 Harts, a Syrah-Roussanne co-fermentation.
AmByth: Paso Robles might seem like a difficult place to pull off dry-farming, but Phillip Hart and his son Gelert run an irrigation-free, biodynamic operation there. Their estate Mourvedre is meaty and structured.
Purity: Winemaker Noel Diaz poured a tropical, juicy Viognier at Brumaire, as well as three whole-cluster Syrahs at Brumaire; his Calaveras County rendition was the standout.
Subject to Change: Despite launching less than a year ago, winemakers Alex Pomerantz and Bradley Friedman already have their wines stocked around the Bay Area, including a juicy, herbal Sauvignon Blanc and a floral, waxy white Rhone blend, both from Mendocino.
Martha Stoumen: One highlight in this lineup of vibrant, insistently light wines is the Nero d’Avola, a bright, delicate Sicilian grape variety.
Hardesty: Chad Hardesty farms the Winnett Vineyard in Humboldt County, and produces structured, Bordeaux-style reds as well as a tangy Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend.
J. Brix: Based in San Diego County, Emily and Jody Brix Towe produce a lineup of fresh, quaffable wines, including Nomine Amoris, a bright pink skin-fermented Pinot Gris; and a black olive-laden Syrah, called La Belle Reveuse.
Les Lunes/Populis: These sister labels are the work of Diego Roig and Shaunt Oungoulian. The Populis lineup includes a lively old-vine Sauvignon Blanc; the high point of Les Lunes is a concentrated, brambly Mendocino County Zinfandel.
Methode Sauvage: Chad Hinds works with some sites of serious pedigree, including the Bates Ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the source of his peppery Cabernet Franc, and the Rorick Heritage Vineyard in Calaveras County, whose chalk soils produce a beautiful Chardonnay.