2018 La Marea by Ian Brand, Albarino “Alt Cut” Kristy Vineyard, Monterey County.
One of the purest and freshest whites of the Summer is Ian Brand’s La Marea “Alt-Cut” Albarino, and this limited edition is a special batch that was vineyard yeast fermented or Pied de Cuve and was whole cluster pressed with a few days of skin contact, making for a vibrant and mineral crisp dry white with nice depth and extract. Ian’s regular version saw more skin contact and is more Sancerre like, which is also incredible, but this Alt-Cut version is wonderfully stylish and far more Rias Baixas true in character with electric acidity and green apple leading the way along with layers of citrus, melon and fleshy white peach, finishing with tangy notes and saline infused wet rock. This Alt-Cut is flying out of the tasting room and you can see why, it is pretty in detail and refreshing on the lighter bodied, but textural palate. The Kristy Vineyard, where this wine comes from, is on the western bench above the Salinas River set on an alluvial fan of diatomaceous earth, or ancient sea bed, with some broken limestone sediment that allows a ripening of flavors, but with a noticeable lower alcohol, it makes for complex and zippy wines.
While harvesting the grapes, sometimes a few days before the full pick, a small batch is put into buckets or small bins and crushed right there within the rows of vines and allowed to ferment naturally and then this is used to set off the crushed grapes in the winery. This Pied de Cuve Alt-Cut, I hope gets done again, as this vintage shows a lovely and distinct personality that really satisfies all the wants in an Albarino, it is great as a poolside or beach party sipper on it’s own, but also is great with food, in fact it gains depth and entertains especially well with food, in particular briny options like Claims, oysters and mussels as well as going great with grilled or pan fried Sardines and or squid. This Albarino gains aromatic as it opens revealing lime blossom and some brisk herbs, while the mouth feel softens making it even more compelling in the glass where its pale greenish gold hue catches the light. Brand de-stemmed all the grapes from a special parcel in the vineyard and left them on the skins for two days in cool vats, aging it with minimal lees and bottled it early to preserve its vivid personality, with only 70 cases made. This is tasty stuff that highlights the fantastic vintage in the region, if you are looking for something fun and unique, check this out.
($30 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive