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
CABERNET / MERLOT
Coplan Vineyard is located in Carneros. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are planted on wright loam soils. The cool temperatures in addition to the cool soils results in ripening with lower sugar levels. They took over farming this vineyard two years ago and have converted it to organics and even time their spraying with the moon cycles. The grapes were destemmed and then fermented in open-top vats. Gentle punch-downs once per day for two weeks led to modest extraction. The wine was then aged in neutral Bordeaux barrels for two years. A small amount of sulphur was added once per year to keep the wine precise and fresh. The final product was bottled by gravity. 12.5% ABV
(322 Cases Produced) 793001
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. The grape clusters were pressed and the juice was allowed to settle overnight. Fermentation took place in a combination of neutral barrel and flex-tanks. It then spent 14 months on the lees before being bottled without fining nor filtration. 12.5% ABV
(250 Cases Produced) 793004
Located on an active volcano north of Sacremento, Dobson Vineyard falls into the Manton Valley AVA. At 850m above sea level, these 40-year-old, own rooted Chardonnay vines can be found in gravelly loam. They have recently taken over farming of this vineyard, converting to organics and, to a lesser extent, permaculture. Whole clusters were pressed and the resulting juice was fermented in flex-tank and neutral oak. No sulphur was added until after malolactic conversion. 10ppm of sulphur was also added before bottling which was done via gravity to avoid pumping. 13% ABV
(125 Cases Produced) 793002