2019 Stolpman Vineyards, So Fresh “Love You Bunches” Sangiovese, Santa Barbara County.
The latest version of Love You Bunches from Stolpman’s So Fresh lineup, which they have created to now be an exciting separate collection and for which there is a whole new tasting room, is a delicious and non pretentious lighter style and juicy red wine made from a gentle carbonic maceration of Sangiovese, making for a fun quaffer that is great with a variety of cuisine. This is very flavorful and ultra clean Sangiovese with a dry, but fruity presence in the glass, with a vivid ruby color, light florals and lots of zesty snap to its low alcohol and crisply detailed personality with straightforward crushed strawberry, morello cherry and spiced raspberry fruit along with a light dusting of wild herbs, fennel, cinnamon, plus a burst of pomegranate and citrus punch. This is a wine that the winery suggests, like a young Beaujolais, should get a slight chill and drunk with simple dishes and without having to overthink it, it is for refreshing the mind, rather than adding a burden to a place place crowded by the worries of our times. Stolpman began producing Carbonic Sangiovese in 2013, according to the winery, in an effort to make a fresh, delicious version of Sangiovese, and it was enough to convince them keep exploring the techniques on this grape, until they dialed it in, creating Love You Bunches, the name being a play on the use of whole clusters, in 2016. With Sangiovese, a grape, that is both highly tannic and high in acid, Stolpman adds, can in a one-two combination can produce a whopping blow to the palate, so like a few other California producers have opted to go the whole bunches and Carbonic route with successful results, as this 2019 shows with exceptional clarity. The 2018 and 2019 vintages gave edgy high toned wines, though I kind like the racy quality here, but Stolpman says the 2020 will give a more seductive textural mouth feel, while still showing the dynamic energy, adding another welcome dimension, which I am looking forward to taste as soon as possible.
These So Fresh Wines have really taken off in recent years and the lineup now includes many unique bottlings from which to chose with a couple of very different Syrah(s), a Rhone field blend of own rooted Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah, the “You planted God Damn Gamay?” GDG Gamay, which certainly has a feverish following and this original So Fresh Love You Bunches, all of which pay tribute to the Glou-Glou (Gulp up) style of natural or peasant wines of the European country side with lots of whole cluster, native yeast and carbonic macerations and almost all tank aging to promote vibrant freshness and youthful drinking pleasure. Most all of these Stolpman So Fresh offerings are from organic vines and see no overt winemaking gimmicks, they are all wines that rely on purity at its most basic, these wines deliver exactly what is promised and illicit huge grins and easy laughter. The Love You Bunches is a nearly perfect picnic wine with about 12.5% alcohol and its natural acidity it can provide a bit more depth than a Rosé for an array of foods, without feeling heavy or requiring a substantial nap after a few glasses, in fact Stolpman bottle the So Fresh Love You Bunches in magnum as well as, which honestly makes good sense as it goes down pretty darn quickly. The Stolpman team explains, that their carbonic fermentation, by allowing the grapes to ferment whole, un-crushed in a sealed tank makes for a red wine containing only a fraction of the tannin, of which is more obviously present in a traditionally fermented red wine. In this way, the Love You Bunches is crafted without the threat of being an overly tannic wine, meaning that Stolpman can pick earlier, at lower sugars (or Brix) and higher in refreshing acidity. Notably, because there is no need to wait for integration or softening, Stolpman bottles the Love You Bunches a la a Nouveau style within a few months of harvest, as they put it, locking in the fresh, un-oxidized profile. The 2020 in fact is now available and this 2019 is sold out at the winery, so you best get your orders in fast as this So Fresh offering goes fast. While being the classic Chianti grape, the crunchy/juicy Love You Bunches Sangiovese is truly a distinctly California expression.
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive