LES LUNES / POPULIS
I met Shaunt and Diego in November 2016 at the Raw Wine Fair in Brooklyn. After days of tasting and drinking and ingesting, my palate was getting a little exhausted. You can only taste so many wines with overt volatile acidity before you spiral into a natural wine depression, and crave mass produced Californian Chardonnay. Then I tasted the wines from Les Lunes and felt re-inspired and refreshed.
In California, there is a massive divide between grape growers and winemakers. Most winemakers merely purchase grapes, but do none of the farming themselves. This disconnect from the land has hindered Californians’ understanding of their terroir. This wacky duo has opted to lease small vineyard plots and get their hands dirty. They convert these sites to organic/biodynamic farming, limit water, and forgo harsh and unnecessary sprays. Through thoughtful farming, they end up with extremely clean, balanced grapes which allows them to do much less in the winery. They sell off some of the grapes to likeminded winemakers in order to fund their passion project.
For their entry level project (Populis) they work closely with a handful of their favorite farmers around northern California. In particular, Larry Venturi has mentored them and provided them with gorgeous Zinfandel. These collaborators are mostly dry farming, using organic preparations.
2016 REVERSÉE CARIGNANE
Venturi Vineyard can be found in Northern California, in Mendocino Country. Here you’ll find 70-year-old, dry farmed, head-trained Carignane vines. They are farmed organically and have their roots deep in sandstone, shale, and quartz. Half the grapes are destemmed while the other half is whole-cluster pressed to decrease the skin to juice ratio. The wine spent six days on the skins before being pressed off into large old puncheons and flex tank. 13% ABV
(550 Cases Produced) 793003
2016 WABI SABI
Wabi Sabi is a quest for beautiful imperfection. Shaunt and Diego really admire the idiosyncrasies of the nine vineyards used to compile this blend. Vine age ranges from 15-70. Different techniques are used depending on grape variety. In some cases, whole clusters were used and in other cases the grapes were destemmed. As with all their wines, each lot was wild fermented. The wine was neither fined nor filtered before bottling. 13% ABV
Vetunri Vineyard is located just north of Ukiah in Mendocino. The seventy-year-old Zinfandel vines are deeply rooted in the Pinole Series gravelly loam made from sandstone, shale, and quartz. You’ll find baseball sized hunks of rock deposited by alluvial flows throughout the site. The beautiful organic bush-vines thrive despite being dry farmed since their planting. Whole-clusters were crushed by foot before fermentation kicked off in open-top vats. During the steady, warm fermentation, light punch-downs were done once a day. One delestage was performed to increase extraction. The wine was aged in neutral flex tank and neutral barrique for 19 months before being racked and bottled. 25ppm of Sulphur was added after malolactic conversion, and an additional 10ppm were added before bottling. 13.5% ABV
This vineyard was planted in 1948 by the Poor Family; they are still farming this plot generations later. The site is located in Hopland on Sho Ka Wah (Pomo) tribal land. The vines are farmed organically and go without irrigation. Wholeclusters were fermented in open top tank for several weeks before being pressed off into neutral barrel. After a twenty-two month of élevage, the wine was bottled.
Charlie Barra has been farming his vineyard for over sixty years. He was an early adopter of organics in California and goes above and beyond to ensure the health of the environment. This block of chardonnay was planted in 1972. They whole-cluster pressed this wine directly into neutral puncheon. It fermented and rested on full lees for ten months before being racked and bottled. This wine is unfined, unfiltered, and has no added Sulphur.
(125 Cases Produced) 793002