2017 I. Brand & Family Winery, Old Vine Mourvèdre, Enz Vineyard, Lime Kiln Valley, San Benito County.
Fast becoming a cult like and followed wine, the Ian Brand made Enz Vineyard Old Vine Mourvèdre is a new California classic with dark and earthy flavors, firm tannic grip and layers of black and red fruit, spice and mineral tones. Ian is very involved in the farming here and has developed a strong bond with these gnarly and historic vines, crafting a wine from here that is singular and unique. This 2017 is highly enjoyable, even being so young, carried by perfectly ripe fruit that is lifted by natural acidity and structural tannin, it shows blackberry, wild plum, mulberry and baked cherry fruit on the medium/full palate as well as hints of stemmy elements, sage, basil and anise along with a faint trace of violets, warm stone, incense and lavender. To capture this unique sites true character, Ian fermented his Mourvèdre with native yeasts, using 50% whole cluster, very traditionally in a concrete tank, and he lees aged it in a combination of French barrels, only 20% new, and one large puncheon, for a total of 11 months.
Brand believes his grapes come from the best block on the vineyard, and he considers it among the best, if not the best, Mourvèdre plantings on the continent! The Enz Vineyard in the Lime Kiln AVA of San Benito County was planted in 1922 on a north facing 5-10 degree slope, set on calcareous and granitic loam soils gets warm/hot days and cool nights that make for top notch Mourvedre, a grape that was originally from Spain, but maybe best known in France’s Provence as in the great wines of Bandol, like those of Domaine Tempier as well as in Chateauneuf-du-Pape where it is found in some elite wines like Beaucastel and Vieux Telegraph. Brand notes, the vineyard was originally planted to support a hotel around a vigorous lime kiln business in the late 1800s, but had become very little known since WWII, as this region was never a wine hotspot. The Enz Mourvèdre budwood was sourced from the original 1860s planting(s) in the Lime Kiln Valley, supposedly brought over by a vigneron when he emigrated from France. These vines, according to Ian, are thought to represent a distinctly different genetic clone than that other Mourvèdre found within the state.
Mourvèdre, especially made from old vines, is one of California’s great values and a special treat for powerful and age worthy reds and there are some amazing wines out there made from this grape, which is known as Monastrell in it’s birth place country of Spain and was nicknamed Mataro here in California early in the last century. If you are looking to explore this grape, I suggest you peach out Ridge Vineyards, Dirty & Rowdy, Bonny Doon’s Old Telegram, Sandlands, Tablas Creek as well as Ian Brand’s awesome Enz Vineyard version, it’s a wine that delivers an exceptional performance without grandiose pretense, and this 2017 while generous in its youth it should really get better over time, be sure to hide a few bottles (in the cellar) for 5 to 10 years for exciting rewards.
($42 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive