Because of Wine, I Walk the Line

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With harvest finished, Grenache barreled, and the first rainfall since March penetrating into our Limestone; November gives us a chance to take stock of our recent journeys and give thanks for the amazing opportunities we have.

R E C E N T  J O U R N I E S
The past three vintages enabled phenomenal wine quality and Sashi pushed the envelope in ways we wouldn’t have dreamed of five years ago.
2012 saw the introduction of concrete fermenters and increased whole-cluster fermentation; true winemaking game changers.
The 2012 Grenache, 100% fermented in concrete and 100% whole-cluster, embodies this New Era of winemaking. The even leaner, concentrated yields of 2013 and the dry-heat of 2014 will eschew darker, weightier Grenaches. In the meantime, the 2012 made its market debut this year dressed in a color lighter than most domestic Pinot Noirs. The fresh, vibrant flavor profile immediately won me over – this wine was unlike anything we had ever made before.
With the 2013 vintage, we further blurred the definition of red wine, unleashing our first Carbonic Sangiovese. Demand for the wine came in from across the country, and we sold out 80 days after release. I’ll never forget an April afternoon, standing in the barrel room, debating if we should even bottle the wine. We originally experimented with the lot as a potential blending component in our Estate Sangiovese, one that would add freshness and bring the alcohol lower. We loved the wine on its own, but none of us knew if customers would be interested. Sashi and John both pushed for bottling, and after one last examining swirl, smell, and taste I agreed it was uniquely compelling enough to hand over to the will of the market. Now we eagerly anticipate the 2014!

S T A Y I N G  T R U E
With American consumers now open to new ideas, we are tempted to go further. Rajat Parr’s Trousseau Petillant Naturel and Trousseau Noir, although tiny in production, will satisfy our desire to continue to explore roads less traveled.
As exciting as these new side projects and new techniques are, I’m keenly aware of the need to stay true to the wines that we have spent the past decade perfecting. We will not abandon any of the projects longtime Stolpman customers have come to love. This includes the 30 month oak-aged Estate Sangiovese, no matter how popular the carbonic version gets.

Likewise, we stand committed to the benchmark style of L’Avion Roussanne, a wine we started making in 2002. 2008 marked the first vintage Roussanne ripened enough to make L’Avion monocepage. The wine remains 100% Roussanne and barrel-fermented in 100% New French 500L puncheons. The 2012 waits bottled in cold storage, the 2013 continues to evolve in Puncheon, and the 2014 bubbles through primary and will take its time fleshing out through malolactic fermentation. In the meantime, the current release, 2011 L’Avion, nears its drinking peak, with the rich, ripe fruit flavors reaching new heights of intensity and nuance, all buttressed by the firm new oak backbone.

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G I V I N G  T H A N K S
In this season of giving thanks, it’s all the more important to think deeply about our direction as an estate winery. My parents, Tom and Marilyn Stolpman, handed us this beautiful site – potentially world-class terroir – and it is up to us to cultivate it, to sustain it, and to enable it to reach its potential. Like the wine we make, balance becomes all-important. Balancing the old and new, the trendy and the traditional, the experimental with the trusted path. If we manage to walk this thin line, we will continue to make better, more exciting wine; and the vineyard will be here for many generations to come.

For this opportunity, I am forever thankful to Tom and Marilyn Stolpman for giving us this “dare to be great” situation. I’m thankful to my entire team of dedicated, passionate people whose combined talents continue to move our company forward. And of course, to our customers, the people who allow us to pursue these wild dreams, thank you.