2020 Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery, Grüner Veltliner, La Playita Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The bright, nutty and tangy fresh 2020 Alfaro Family Grüner Veltliner is pale greenish gold in the glass and has a round mineral driven medium bodied palate with lemon/lime, peach and melon fruits leading the way, finishing crisply dry and with a touch of bitter almond and wet stones. This vintage, with its ripe citrus notes and low alcohol, coming in at just 12.4%, make it tasty with light cuisine, especially briny oysters, clams and delicate white fish, as well as soft cheeses and grilled veggies. The Alfaro’s have created a nice little niche for their Grüner and it remains a fun alternative to the much more widely planted Sauvignon Blanc in California, especially for those looking for a serious and interesting other dry white. There’s been a change in generation here at Alfaro, with Richard turning the cellar over to his son Ryan, who is emerging as a winemaker in his own right after spending time in New Zealand and under the legendary Adam Tolmach at Ojai Vineyards, so there is a lot of excitement here, especially as Ryan’s own label Farm Cottage has shown his potential with a series of fabulous offerings. The Alfaro’s have also have fully taken over the Trout Gulch Vineyard, a site that has historically produced some outstanding fruit and is one of the most coveted Chardonnay vineyards in the region, providing grapes to Cerritas, Kutch and Arnot-Roberts as well as to their own top notch bottling. While this 2020 is well worth getting if you see it, the 2021 looks to be even more thrilling and is now the current release at Alfaro and I can’t wait to get some myself!
One of the central coast’s most intriguing alternative whites, as noted, has to be the Alfaro’s estate grown Grüner Veltliner, the signature Austrian white grape famously grown along the Danube River to the west of Vienna in the Wachau region. Like here, Grüner makes for a mineral driven dry white wine with interesting stony fruit and bright acidity. This La Playita Vineyard edition GruVee is delicious stuff along the lines of some of, and inspired by the legends of Gruner, such as Hirtzberger, Pichler, Knoll, and Hirsch to name of few. The Alfaro Family Vineyards La Playita Grüner a direct press to stainless steel for fermentation and then was aged 6 months in neutral oak to preserve fresh details and vibrancy, while allowing some soft texture to develop. It comes from estate vines set in the unique terrior of Corralitos, at the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation on loam and ancient sea bed soils. This area gives lots of fruit concentration and the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean, less that 10 miles away, keeps a dynamic intensity in the wines. The South facing La Playrita (Little Beach in Spanish) Vineyard site, on sandy top soils, hence the name, sits at approximately 500 feet of elevation and next to a seasonal stream, this parcel is the coolest spot on the Alfaro estate. When planted in 2008, Richard Alfaro notes, there were only about 10 acres of Grüner Veltliner in all of California, and with the wine’s success, that acreage has grown dramatically and today there are approximately 170 acres more planted, and there is also sizable number in Oregon too. Alfaro has released some very limited offerings that look good, like a new 100% whole cluster Pinot and the “Kongsgaard Clone” 2021 Mary Katherine Vineyard Estate Chardonnay, which are must haves!
($30 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive