Flora and Fauna loosely means the collection of plant and animal life of a certain epoch. In
my version, it is the collection of varietals from the cellar that make up the blend for the year.
For 2019, the blend is comprised of roughly 53% Dolcetto, 44% Barbera, and 3% Nebbiolo.
fruit mostly comes from Fox Hill Vineyard and Lost Hills Ranch. Fox Hill lends depth while
Lost Hills balances with vibrancy and bright aromatics. In the end, Mendocino is what is most
on display with high and low tones and a very pleasant rusticity.
In contrast to the varietal
bottling of these wines, these grapes are from sections of the vineyard that yield lighter
structure and are handled with this early to bottle style in mind.
2019 began with a late and wet start. I love vintages that start slow and tease their way into
the growing season; it seems that these years always have a story to tell. The summer came
on slowly without excessive heat, and the fall followed with the same pattern. One slight rain
event had us all worried, but then late September and October turned to an Indian summer
of warm days and cool nights which ensured all of the fruit was harvested before the late
October fires. In turn, these wines are dense and brooding from their long hang-time but
also lithe and energetic due to the overall cool season.
All of these varieties have structure and at the same time a joyous side. The focus in fermen
tation was to build enough structure for a very versatile food wine but also to emphasize the
exuberant and delicious elements of each grape. To do this, the wines were left largely whole
cluster and all fermentations started with carbonic maceration. That being said, none of
them were pushed to be fully carbonic wines. Instead, the initial lift in aromatics and push on
frothy fresh fruits was achieved, and then I fully treaded the wines to allow fermentation to
switch to a more standard flow. This gave a backbone and savory qualities to act as bass
notes to the carbonic high tones. All of the wines were pressed a touch early to ensure that
the tannic structure was appropriate for a shorter time in barrel, just four months in neutral
In Italy, the house wine is often light, fresh, and firmly structured so as to pair beautifully next
to a wide range of foods, and that is the inspiration for this blend. The 2019 is at once the
deepest and most savory while also being the lightest and freshest rendition of this blend
yet. Dark cherry, iron and sanguine notes, dried herbs, violets, and graphite are highlights of
the aromas. The mouth feel is a joyful interplay of brightness with chewy bass notes before
the seriousness kicks in with a firm acid and tannin balance on the finish.