Evan’s Gate: Ruth Lewandowski Wines

Evan Lewandowski’s definition of wine is thus:

“It is not industrially farmed with the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides and fungicides and fertilizers.  It isn’t an industrially produced beverage product through employing unnecessary amounts of sulphur, without cultured ‘designer’ yeast and/or bacteria strains, and the myriad of other techno cellar wizardry products we have at our fingertips these days.  No acid additions, no sugar, no water, no tannin, no filtration for filtration’s sake, etc etc.  Insomuch as it is possible, I strive to produce wine made of SOLELY grape juice.  That is, to me, the true expression of the land via the grapevine.”

And what wines! For starters, a thrilling Grenache Gris called Naomi from dry-farmed centenarian vines in McDowell Valley in Mendocino County. He ferments whole-cluster, presses the fruit and separates the juice from the skins to ferment in egg-shaped tank. The manually controlled press cycle is a long, fairly rough one to extract a higher than average amount of phenolic material from the beautiful, very unique fruit.

After about three weeks, native alcoholic fermentation was complete, and by the end of November the malolactic conversion had also taken place naturally. Naomi saw no winemaking additions of any kind except for a scant 20ppm of So2 at bottling. It is unfined, unfiltered, and completely intriguing. There truly is no better indication that your vineyard and the subsequent fruit born of the vineyard are healthy than a naturally healthy fermentation.  Over the ageing process, Naomi develops a faintly peachy glow, which just so happens to match the white peach aroma. Overripe pear and a touch of creamy pineapple round things out… Whites made from the Grenache family often have a somewhat waxy or oily texture... this rings true here, with a refreshingly balanced acidity to counter the weight. Taut minerality carried by the reduction and a compressed leesiness give this wine a further edge.

Mahlon is from Fox Hill Vineyard, Talmage Bench, Mendocino CA. Lowell (the grower) chose well with the Arneis and Cortese and planted them on a northwest facing slope with gentle terracing running northwest to southeast.  This allows a longer, fuller ripening at lower sugar levels in what can be a fairly roast-ey part of the Mendocino corridor.  Winds coming down from the hills in the evenings also serve to refresh the vines. Made identically to the Naomi. Brilliant, almost electric version of this grape with sturdy, dense aromas of wild flowers and spices, contrasting with a surprising citric acidity on the palate. A wine more suited to drink with food than on its own.

Boaz is a co-fermentation of three different estate plots, three different varieties. Carignan, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. Highway 101 dissected the home ranch during the 60's and "Uncle Charlie's Block," was forever delineated from the rest of the property. This is the source of the Carignan, the lion's share of this cuvée. The soil is of the Yokayo series, well-drained sandy loam derived from parental sedimentary rock. Organic growing practices, old vines (75+ years old), and dry farming combine to produce Carignan that is dense and masculine yet high toned and intriguingly feminine. The Grenache comes from the other side of the 101, at the historic home ranch, also 75+ year old dry-farmed bush vines on a slightly stonier soil profile, Pinnobe gravelly loam. The Cab comes from just behind the family's current home, up on benchland that “rollercoasters” its way east down the slope. 25 years old and trained to bilateral cordon VSP, this is one of the most captivating vineyard sites in the surrounding area.

The old vines Carignan, whole cluster ferment lends a brighter, higher-toned aromatic profile, a mellowing of acidity and an all-around more delicate side to what might otherwise be a very muscular wine.  Concentrated, with intense structure, it's just very well balanced by fresh acidity, floral and bright berry tones. Nose of garrigue-y cassis, blackberry and cinnamon bark, forest floor, bright violets and deep cocoa nib and tobacco and a bit of roasted meat and sweet green herbs rounding it out. A balanced, delicate palate full of dark cherry, currants, baking spice and coffee. Tannins are fine, acidity is mouth-watering and minerality a welcome bonus.

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