Sunday, March 20, 2016

Guest Post: Purity Wine - 2013 Carignan

Purity Wine - 2013 Carignan, Evangelho Vineyard, Antioch, Contra Costa County

On the nose: dark fruit, some earthiness, a little lead pencil.

In the mouth:  soft, a tad sweet, a mix of ripe and stewed fruit but balanced by being bright and fresh. Simple and straightforward, it’s more California in the mouth than on the nose.  On my scale for natural wine (1-10, with 10 being the funkiest), I’d give this a 3. 

Let me first say that the reason I chose this bottle was that I’ve never had wine made from grapes from Antioch, California.  Just a bike ride away from where I live, Antioch is known, if anything, for being part of the massive easterly East Bay suburban sprawl.  Suffice to say I’d never seen vineyard in Antioch.  So I picked up this bottle almost laughing as I did so, but when I read the back label it was clear that this winemaker is of the new school, and quite serious about what he is doing.   The label explains the grapes came from 130 year old vines (!), carefully lays out the sulfite levels - 30 ppm were added at bottling, for a total of 50 ppm - and explains in more detail than I’ve seen on most other wine labels how the wine was made (the grapes “were picked early in the a.m. of 9/7” . . . a third of the grapes were “destemmed and returned to the whole to be trod by foot” and so on).  Whoa, I thought, a natural wine from Antioch!  Live and learn.

I happened to meet the winemaker, Noel Diaz, several days later at a natural wine fair in Oakland.  He wasn’t allowed to bring this Carignan, as the SO2 was too high to qualify (I think the cutoff was 30 ppm), but he was pouring a wonderful pét-nat, a rose, some kind of Cinsault-Granache blend, and a vat of an amazing golden-hued white (Marsanne I think).  All of which were firmly in the funky, natural category but in a very good way.   By contrast, this Carignan from Antioch might be categorized as a natural wine bike with training wheels:  fresh, simple, unmistakably Californian, but with a little bit of lees-y bite.  

- Reviewed by Sara Mann

Learn more about Purity Wines:!wines/c161y

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