I was pruning vines over at the Vineyard House the other day, and it dawned on me that the wine which these vines produce – the Coda Blanc – doesn’t get enough respect. In an era where so much of what we consume is carefully assembled within the parameters of repeatability and predictability, this wine stands out as a refreshing risk-taker. Please allow me to explain.
Back in 2003, when David and Ron planted the block in that coarse sand, they did something that not many had done since the 19th century Italian immigrants: plant 5 different grape varieties side-by-side with little concern for demarcating rows or sections. 150 years ago it was just what one did, these days it’s affectionately called a “field blend.” Because we can’t easily tell the Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Vermentino (Rolle) apart, we’re forced to pick them all together. Each variety is at a wildly different level of ripeness – when picked separately at the main vineyard the Viognier is usually ready in August but the Marsanne not until early October – but they all get pressed into the same tank. You’ll hear hip winemakers boast of their “co-ferment”, which is when multiple grapes are fermented together, but the Coda Blanc has been co-fermented all along (it just hasn’t done enough boasting, I think). What all this means is that, instead of making each wine separately and titrating the amount in a blend to exact, repeatable specifications, the Coda Blanc is a wild, unpredictable ride each year. The simplicity of the process – pick grapes, press grapes, ferment together, bottle – allows us to offer the wine at a modest price, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a unique and wonderful snapshot of the growing conditions of the vintage, and always crisp and refreshing.
With that, the 2014 Coda Blanc begins our wine presentation. This vintage was straight from the House Block – no other ends and pieces blended in – so it’s 34% Viognier, 25% Rolle, 15% Marsanne, 14% Grenache Blanc, and 12% Roussanne. But I’m sort of cheating, since those percentages are based on vine counts, not weight. The year was warm-to-hot and evenly sunny, and this bottling exudes the sun back into the glass with fully developed notes of citrus flowers and tropical fruit carried by zesty acidity.
Let Coda Blanc begin your next meal, and let its diametric opposite, the 2014 Dessert Wine, (aka Port) end it. I should admit that, while calling it “2014” as a point of reference, this wine is multi-vintage. In traditional fashion I’ve been trying to reserve some of the older wine to blend with each vintage, as well as mixing in a small quantity of the latest vintage for freshness. This 120 gallon blend has 15 gallons of our 2013 Dessert Wine and 5 gallons of 2015. In 2014 the Touriga Nacional was very light, so there’s a little Merlot in here as well. The wine is sweet and heady with blackberry and currant fruits, but not at all cloying at 7% RS (residual sugar). It is truly delicious!
Finally, the 2012 Triptych has been one of our most popular wines ever, so we knew we couldn’t go wrong including it in this shipment. This Syrah based blend has been in high demand with all of our local restaurant partners, so we thought it’d be a good idea to share it with you once more before it’s all gone. Triptych was designed by Mari to be a flashy, unabashedly Californian wine, and in a perfectly Californian vintage like 2012 the wine just sings. Enjoy the full-bodied, spice-adorned dark fruits with anything off the grill when you first light it up this Spring (if you haven’t already!).