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New arrivals from Glou (5/5)

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Located near Templeton in the Paso Robles AVA, AmByth Estate acquired its land in 2001 and planted its first vines in 2004. With daytime temperatures reaching 100ºF (38ºC) or higher in the summer, the owners wisely decided to focus on southern European grape varieties. As hot as it gets at midday, cool Pacific winds bring the night temperatures down to around 50ºF (10ºC), helping to preserve the grapes’ acid balance and prevent overripeness. The estate is certified organic and biodynamic and its 20 acres (8 ha) of vineyards and olive groves are dry-farmed. Winemaking uses natural yeasts and no added anything, except sulphur (no sulphur in the 2012s). The wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined. The estate has begun experimenting with amphoras. Total annual wine production is around 1,000 cases.

Red Table Wine 2011, Paso Robles, AmByth Estate ($34.55, Glou, 6 bottles/case)
Having only small quantities of fruit in frosty springed 2011, the estate decided to concoct a one-off table wine from lots that didn’t make it into the regular cuvées. A crazy blend of Grenache (20%), Mourvèdre (19%), Sangiovese (19%), Tempranillo (18%), Grenache Blanc (10%), Counoise (7%), Syrah (5%) and Marsanne (2%), all from estate vineyards. 14 ppm sulphur was added. 138 cases were made; as of this posting, Glou has only one left. 13.3% ABV.
Savoury nose of red and black fruit (a bit Chambord-like), hay stubble, ink. Medium-bodied with good acidity, slender yet pleasantly raspy tannins and clean fruit, neither candied nor heavy. Tastes of the earth. Very drinkable. (Buy again? Yes but…)

Adamo 2009, Paso Robles, AmByth Estate ($47.00, Glou, 6 bottles/case)
Grenache (59%) Mourvèdre (17%), Syrah (13%) and Counoise (11%). Lightly stomped with the stems. Part of the GSM was fermented in a new French oak barrel, part in a neutral barrel; all was given two weeks’ maceration. The remaining GSM and the Cournoise were open-top fermented with regular punch-downs. 90 cases made. 13% ABV.
Red and black berries, lightly candied, along with some dusty garrigue notes. Soft-textured, pure and, for a Southern Californian, restrained, an impression only heightened by the bright acidity and sinewy tannins. Long, lightly astringent finish. Not a lot of depth but a really enjoyable surface. Ready to go. (Buy again? Yes but…)

With their lean fruit, strong acidity, reasonable alcohol levels, overall poise and great savour, these are some of the freshest, food-friendliest, most non-palate-clobbering (digeste, as the French succinctly say) Rhône-style wines from the New World I’ve tasted. Why the “yes buts” then? In a word, QPR, which is low relative to the wines’ Old World counterparts. But that’s true for many Californians these days, let alone micro-production natural wines from artisanal producers. Relative to other Golden State wines, they’re not overpriced (e.g. $47 Adamo vs. $49 Cigare Volant).

Written by carswell

May 11, 2013 at 14:09

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