Scholium 1MN 2015
This wine is composed of 100% Cinsault from the 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 wine in the simplest possible way: the fruit is brought in from the vineyard, introduced gradually into 600 liter puncheons turned vertical, with their heads removed. We stomp all of the fruit as it goes in, releasing the juice from about a third of the fruit. Then it's left alone. In a week or so, fermentation starts and a cap forms. They call this the Courier Protocol—an extended floating cap fermentation with a minimum of punchdowns and no pumpovers. After about 3 weeks of fermentation, the wine is drained away, remaining pomace pressed very gently, and the two wines are aged separately (press and free-run) separately for about a year, in 220 liter neutral oak barrels.
The wine usually ages without SO2 and is bottled with 0 free and about 40 mg/L total.
Originally told that the vineyard was planted to “Black Malvasia.” This was one of those weird, very local names the settlers from all over Europe called the vines that they planted in California— like Napa Gamay and Grey Riesling. It never occurred to the winemakers me that it referred to anything other than the Italian grape known as Malvasia Nera. And then, after two years, learned that the Germans who settled, and planted, this part of Lodi used the name Black Malvasia for what we know, universally, as Cinsault. They called the wine “1MN” because it was then the first fruit brought into the winery and we thought that it was Malvasia Nera.
Medium light bodied, quite translucent in the glass. Dried red cherries, a hard candy note, a bit of plum on opening, cranberry as it develops in the glass, cinnamon, brown sugar, black tea on the finish. Tannins are very fine, a bit drying. Acidity is medium, and refreshing. This is a delicious, well made wine. Ready to drink now, but will remain interesting for a long time. Definitely reminiscent of Cru Beaujolais.