Meet 3 of our closest Pals...
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As you have likely noticed by now, we are making wine from three less conventional varieties. The desire to work with the beautiful berries came from a combination of inspiration from having worked with them in harvests abroad, and the desire to add to the diversity of today’s wine market. Anyway, we’d like to tell you a little more about our three pals, Verdelho, Carignan, and Valdiguié
From our Winemaker Katie Rouse:
So... many of you may not have heard of these grape varieties. And that’s ok! As our efforts with Birdhorse Wines are to showcase and champion some lesser-known and produced varieties in California, let us tell you a bit about them and why they made the cut…
Not to be confused with the genetically distinct Verdello (Italy) and Verdejo (Spain), Verdelho originates from Portugal on the island of Madeira. It is one of four noble grapes that makes up the wine of its island’s namesake; records date back to its use in the 15th century! It is known as Gouveiro in the Douro Valley and has also found great success in Australia. The wine shows tropical fruit notes and good acidity. Clusters are loose with oval-shaped berries, allowing good airflow.
Our early harvest date and with hyper-oxidative handling of the juice aims to highlight the bright acidity of the fruit along with developing a rich, textured palate. A long history of Portuguese community in the Delta area is the reason for many Portuguese varieties in the area. The fruit comes from Evina Vineyard in Knightsen, Contra Costa County, California.
This grape has origins in Aragón, Spain, yet is best known for its large production volume in the Languedoc-Roussillon, France. It is growing in repute as more producers are showcasing the grape on its own rather than using as a blending variety. Other synonyms are Bovale di Spagna, Cariñena, Carinyena, Mazuela, and Samsó. Characterized by large, tight clusters and a long maturation cycle, this variety is prone to rot and mildew issues. Poor soils and low rainfall are ideal growing conditions to concentrate and control the vigor of this variety, which makes old-vine bush vines the ideal candidates for high-quality wines. The wines are noted for strong tannins, high acid, and vibrant color, and as such are wonderful food wines.
Our Carignan comes from Vineyard Lane in Antioch, Contra Costa County, California, from 100+ year old head-trained spur-pruned vines planted in loose, sandy soils. What beauties!
Pronounced “Val-di-gay”, this variety is also known as Gros Auxerrois, Quercy, and Napa Gamay. It became famous in its homeland of Southwestern France for high productivity and found a short-lived success in California (under the misnomer Napa Gamay as it was thought to be a clone of the Burgundian Gamay grape) as a table wine variety post-Prohibition. It was thought to be a clone of Beaujolais Gamay grape until Pierre Galet, French ampelographer, correctly identified it as Valdiguié. The vines yield enormous clusters, bursting with fruit, acidity, and a beautiful deep magenta color. Wines are fresh and easy drinking but can be vinified for aging as well.
Our Valdiguié hails from Julian Lane in Suisun Valley, Solano County, California and is waiting to be picked as I write this! We look forward to making fruit-forward, approachable wine from this vineyard on the east side of the Vaca Mountains from Napa Valley.
Hopefully this inspires your willingness to try some new varieties in all of California's bounty... We look forward to filling your glasses with these special varieties in 2019! Cheers!