“ The wine is a 2022 White Grenache Noir. Not to be confused with Grenache Blanc or with Grenache Rosé, this wine is not only novel, it is a unicorn. It is the serendipitous result of incredibly good fruit from old vines, tremendous skill and know-how, freedom to operate without confines, and a whole lot of blind luck.
On a low, south-facing slope sits a block of own-rooted Grenache Noir vines that were planted in the 1970’s. These vines are fickle and produce massive clusters of varying ripenesses, sometimes even within the clusters. This variation was further exacerbated by the obscure 2022 season and the spring frost. For whatever reason, grapes from these vines that tested at 19 to 20 degrees Brix (one degree Brix is one gram of sucrose in 100 grams of liquid) in the field and were picked for rosé came in at 17.5 Brix after pressing. The pressed juice also had absolutely no color. Somehow, though, it tasted promising to Wright, so he rolled with it. A couple of weeks later another pass through the same block gave more grapes, again with no color after direct press, but they were again tasting intriguing to Wright.
Winemaker Ryan Wright showing off the Grenache Noir vines whence came the 2022 White Grenache unicorn
Many winemakers would have panicked, rushed out to find ready red grapes to provide some color, and would have blended it in to save the rosé, but not Wright. He recognized there was something special going on here, and he decided to let it sing. He processed the lots with very little intervention, blended them to taste at a 60:40 first lot to second lot proportion, and got 140 cases of bottled enchantment.
2022 White Grenache. Yes, this is a white wine made from Grenache Noir grapes.
There is nothing like this wine. It is pleasantly disconcerting with its pale straw color that telegraphs a certain expectation, but then hits you with an aromatic curveball. White wine isn’t supposed to smell like this. It is bright and lemony but also rich and tropical. It is floral but not perfumy. It gives a vague impression of a Torrontés but without the soapiness. Once on the palate, the uniqueness of the wine continues. It has the body of a Chardonnay with a thick coating texture, but nothing else about it is like a Chardonnay. It has the structure of a Sauvignon Blanc with racy acidity, but nothing else about it is like a Sauvignon Blanc. It also continues to evolve in the glass as it breathes. After some time, strawberries start to slowly announce their presence, and they just camp out and linger on the palate. This shockingly good wine has the flavors and structure to make it pairable with almost anything, but it is probably best savored on its own.
The White Grenache Noir may well be fleeting, but that’s okay. Wright says he will try to replicate it in future vintages, but his eyes give away his suspicion that this was a one-time gift from the wine gods. While it is sad that it may never be duplicated, the encouraging thing is that this wine came about because of Wright’s experience, knowledge, and recognition, and was enabled by Czachorowski’s trust and the resources he has provided. The fruit came from MacCready’s unique vines, and everyone knows Scher will be able to use her unique skills to serve and sell it. None of these things are going to disappear, so it is very likely there will be many more unicorns to come.
Framed in this context, it is clear that Sierra Vista has a future even brighter than its past. This is a winery that offers the best of the Sierra Foothills with its setting, its facilities, its wines, and its people. Most importantly, Sierra Vista has successfully grafted new life onto some deep old roots. The combination is indeed producing magic.“
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