2016 Rhododactylos Bechtold Ranch
This wine is composed of 100% Cinsault from the amazing Bechtold Ranch vineyard, planted in 1870 on its own roots, in deep, sandy loam soil deposited by the Mokelumne River, flowing down from the Sierras. The vineyard is on the west side of Lodi in an area where the ground is often heavy, clay loam— but Bechtold is in the old flood plain of the Mokelumne, and its Sierra sand balances the heavy loam. The vineyard is so old and healthy that it has never been replanted, thus the fact the the vines still grow on their own (ungrafted) roots.
This is one of the white or nearly white wines that we make from red fruit grown in the light, sandy soils of Lodi, and that we think reveal the glorious and unforeseen possibilities that this terroir holds for white wines. We harvest the fruit from the south section of the vineyard, close to a concrete-lined irrigation canal. The canal leaks a small amount of water into the soil constantly, hardly measurable, but enough to affect the growth and production of the plants: in this section, yields are slightly higher, berries slightly bigger, and ripening slightly delayed. This allows us to harvest the fruit from this section as much as a week or two before the fruit for the red wine we make from the same vineyard, at higher acidity, lower alcohol, and with somewhat less concentration of pigment in the skins. We bring in the fruit and press it as gently as possible, restrict yields with great severity, and assess the juice for its vivacity and acidity above all.
We ferment the juice in a chilled stainless steel tank, use SO2 to arrest malolactic fermentation, and then age the wine on its lees for about 7 months. We filter and adjust the before bottling—- this is one of the few wines that we make where a honed freshness is the aim of the winemaking. We typically bottle the wine with about 20 mg/l free SO2 and 50 total.
A note on the name: this was the first wine that we made that could be understood as any kind of a rosé. We are aiming more for white wine, or blanc de noir— but sometimes the pigment in the skins expresses itself no matter what we want. We named the wine after a beautiful epithet in the Iliad and the Odyssey: “rhododactylos” means “rosy-fingered” and is the epithet of Dawn—so called because of the way that pink fingers of light can project over the horizon right before the sun actually rises.
Total Production: 77 cases.