Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 31, 2020

2017 Desparada, Picpoul Blanc “Electra” Luna Matta Vineyard, Paso Robles.
Vailia From’s Desparada wines in Paso Robles’ Tin City is a must visit for those searching out interesting wines that are hand crafted with an artists touch and come from the heart and her Electra Picpoul is a wild and imaginative interpretation of this grape. Maybe a one off the 2017 is far an away different than the classic Picpoul de Pinet of France’s Languedoc and even the California versions made by Tablas Creek and Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon in that the Desparada Picpoul is richly textured and almost full bodied with luxurious mouth feel and at this stage showing off mature baked peach, apricot and melon fruits, rather than the zippy lime and mineral tones. Picpoul Blanc, also a Chateauneuf du Pape varietal, is a grape that seems well suited to California and easily capable of making for a great wine and with climate change looks set to play a role in the state’s white wines of the future, so it’s exciting to see how many different ways it can be done with Vailia’s experimental version being of an interest. This supple and lush 2017, maybe I should have opened it a year ago, feels beautifully round and while the acidity has faded it still has loads of life and goes nicely with soft cheeses and grilled shrimps, it opens with hints of marmalade, dried pineapple, gingery spices, reminding me a little of an aged white Bordeaux.

Just one barrel made, of this Desparada Picpoul Blanc Electra and Vailia From aged it in a neutral French oak Bel Air cask on the lees to achieve the mouth feel and depth you find in this unique wine. This exploration, I have to say is pretty successful overall and I hope we see lots more Picpoul and by many more producers that are willing to be creative. In more recent vintages, Vailia has turned to Sauvignon Blanc for her alternative white wine program and she’s turning out some thrilling stuff, her use of amphora has added another level to her wines as well. Desparada’s main lineup features Bordeaux and Italian influenced reds with her Sackcloth & Ashes Bordeaux Blend being Vailia’s star wine, it is crafted using (in the current release) 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Petit Verdot, 23% Cabernet Franc and 8% Malbec sourced from sites ranging from Paso to Santa Ynez. The packaging and label at Desparada are exquisite and gorgeous, something of which I rarely mention, but it has to be noted when they are this beautiful and the wines just as good. The Electra Picpoul Blanc from Luna Matta Vineyard, a limestone based site in west Paso Robles that supplies From with her Italian varietals, but I hope she gets more of this grape in the coming years. I had forgot I had this bottle tucked away, it turned out to be a pleasant find in the stash, I am now motivated to check out some of Vailia’s new stuff, especially her Chenin Blanc(s), which she didn’t have when I visited last time.
($38 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive