We’re closing our Winter Release with an insider secret: if you like modestly priced, medium bodied reds with complex fruit and savory notes…you should be drinking California Carignan.
There is a reason the sommelier community (and hipster nation) has fallen for this grape. Low in alcohol, long on character, Carignan is the WOW! bottle to bring to your next socially-distanced-outdoor-dinner gathering.
2018 Indica, Mendocino Red Table Wine
If you’ve been following along, you know Indica was one of LIOCO’s breakout wines. We first put one to bottle in 2006, a blend of old vine Carignan + Petite Sirah. It was a time when few had ever heard of Carignan, but we loved the heirloom quality of those gnarly old vines enough to go out and built a market for it. Soon Carignan, despite the odds, became a winner! With the path clearly marked, other vintners entered the ring and fruit prices for this exceedingly rare grape rose to levels that eventually sidelined us. The 2014 vintage was our final bottling—victims of our own success! We sorely missed the wine on our table, as did our loyal fanbase throughout the country. In the winter of 2018, we began to hunt for new sources. It was right in front of us, as two of our existing growers stepped forward to make it happen—Athan Poulos from Lolonis Vineyard offered us some 1942-era Valdiguié, and Jim McCutchen another parcel of mid-century Carignan. This 2018 Indica smells like a train wreck of just-picked blackberries, Italian plums, & lavender and tastes of mulberry, violette liqueur, & chai spice. Lots California wine for the money.
2018 Sativa, Mendocino Carignan
Over the winter, we made several trips up to Jim McCutchen’s vineyard to better understand his elusive Carignan vines. From his sprawling, mountainside California vineyards, we identified three unique blocks. The most distinguished of them with the oldest vines (early 1960s), grows on the rockiest soils on the property and has never been irrigated. The grape yields here are lower and ripen about a week earlier. From 2018 forward these dry-farmed old vines alone will make Sativa! The rest of Jim’s Carignan will be assigned to Indica. In 2018, we let this fruit hang until late October resulting in a deep, dark, flavor-dense version of Sativa. As has long been our practice with Sativa, we foot-stomped these grapes and fermented them on 100% whole clusters. The resulting wine smells like sun-ripened black fruit, wild Corsican herbs, violets, and crushed stone (there is in fact a stone quarry just below the vineyard). It reminds us of those expensive, culty wines that Kermit Lynch imports from the Languedoc of France.
Get on the Carignan Train! Purchase yours here!
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