2017 Jaimee Motley Wines, Mondeuse “Argillet” Santa Maria Valley.
Beautifully purple/crimson in the glass with a dark and spicy nose of violets, peppercorns and wild herbs this 2017 Mondeuse from Jaimee Motley bursts from the glass with plum, black raspberry, dried cranberry and heady kirsch notes. This is a wine that will seduce fans of the Northern Rhone, in particular those that like Cornas and or Crozes-Hermitage. The full bunch stem inclusion gives this thrilling wine a ton of bite, nervous energy and a hyper personality, which I really love, it lifts the ripe fruit, keeps the wine from being heavy and makes the aromatics pop, in other words it makes it an exciting wine, while youthfully aggressive, it will serve it well over time. One of the breakout young talents of the California wine scene in the last few vintages, Jaimee Motley founder and winemaker at her Jaimee Motley Wines, based in Sebastopol, and along with Lagier-Meredith, is a champion of the rare and little known Savoie red grape Mondeuse that is grown in the French alps near the Swiss border.
Motley’s career has taken off, and her mailing is the only place to get her wines on release, in fact her current set sold out within a day or so! Raised in Annapolis, Maryland, Motley moved to San Francisco to study art, but quickly got into the City wine scene and started working at some high end wine restaurants including Locanda and she ended up working with and becoming friends with Raj Parr at RN74. Later she travelled through the wine regions of Europe gaining an appreciation for traditional winemaking methods that she would carry into her career along with gaining her hands on experience at Pax, all of which shows her own wines that transmit an authentic old world charm and have a pretty, soulful and rustic appeal. Her mantra, alchemy, artistry, family. Along with her reverence and respect of nature (natural processes), acceptance of the unknown, honoring of the past while embracing the future as well as the teachings of her cherished mentors, as she notes, provided the inspiration and vision behind her Jaimee Motley Wines label.
Motley’s signature wine, the medium/full bodied 2017 Mondeuse “Argillet” comes from the sandy loam and limestones soils of the Santa Maria Valley, it was crafted with native (yeast) primary and secondary fermentation in neutral barrels with ultra low sulfur and with she employs 100% whole cluster and she ages on lees for about 11 months. An interesting side note, Jaimee also imports Stockinger barrels from Austria, which she and Raj Parr sell to selected winemakers in California. Stockinger, a historic family owned barrel maker, is one of the great artisanal coopers of Europe that even supply to famous domaines in Burgundy, and are known for their quality craftsmanship and the less toasty sweetness than give to the wines while providing refined textural quality. Mondeuse is known for it’s deep color and earthy/spicy personality, which in someways remind people of Syrah, but with a different profile set of fruits. The 2017 opens as it gets air, gaining in dimension and texture and takes on added complexity with earthy tones, cinnamon/brown spice, lingering blue fruits and elegant mineral notes.
Jaimee Motley, along with her dear friend Scott Schultz of Jolie-Laide are part of a new generation of cool kids, an artisan group that includes Cruse Wine Company, Ian Brand, Martha Stoumen, Sheldon Wines, Tribute to Grace, Dirty and Rowdy, Arnot-Roberts and others that focus on alternative varietals and or making more authentic, lower alcohol, quaffable wines without pretense as well as being influenced by various natural wine producers or lesser known regions. This Mondeuse is intriguing stuff, if you want it you’ll have to really search it out and I recommend getting on Jaimee’s list, and check out her Chenin too. With her European inspiration, I also want to make the point, this wine, especially, needs food to show it’s best, drink it with Lamb burgers, mushroom dishes, Korean BBQ pork and or robust/rustic cuisine, enjoy this Mondeuse over the next 3 to 5 years.
($38 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive