2022 Extradimensional Wine Co. Yeah!, Old Vine Carignane, Mendocino County, California.
The dark, concentrated and complex Old Vine Carignane was one of the highlights when I was catching up with Hardy Wallace, the madman behind Extradimensional Wine Co. Yeah! winery and formerly of Dirty & Rowdy, in person was one of years highlights in wine. His latest set, as mentioned in my most recent reviews of his wines, are a fabulous collection, with this 2022 Old Vine Carignane being exceptional, it truly elevates this grape to new levels. This is one of three or four varietal bottlings in California that are must tries for fans of this lesser known Châteaueuf du Pape grape. A deep and seductive purple/ruby hue in the glass invites you in to this Old Vine Carignane, as done that sweet and savory nose with wild flowers, earth and loam leading to a medium bodied youthful palate of blackberry, plum, blueberry and Italian cherry fruits, crunchy herbs, peppery spices, hillside sage, dusty earth, mineral and lingering lavender. Wallace, who is a Mourvèdre freak, has done some exciting work with alternative grapes over the years, with Barbera and Carignane being good examples, but he is best known maybe for his experimentation, as seen in his crazy blends, like his wildly tasty Family Band red that has Zinfandel, Grenache and Skin fermented Chardonnay! Then there is Wallace’s deep dive into orange wines, with his 2021 Close Encounters being a phenomenon all its own, skin contact Chenin, Chardonnay and Viognier, that rivals anything I’ve ever had in the weird and wacky world of orange wines. The Extradimensional Wine Co. Yeah! Tasting room in downtown Sonoma, just off the historic plaza, is fantastic place to try these wines and get some insight into winemaker Hardy Wallace’s sense of purpose with his collection and his unique style that leans into natural winemaking, whole cluster fermentation and very subtle oak use.
As I’ve said before, Hardy Wallace is one of the most gentle, flamboyant and intriguing personalities in the world of California wine and his Extradimensional Wine Co. Yeah! is an awesome label that marries old world traditions with way out there experimentation, as seen in his crazy blends, like his Family Band red that has Zinfandel, Grenache and Skin fermented Chardonnay! Then there is Wallace’s deep dive into orange wines, with his 2021 Close Encounters being a phenomenon all its own, skin contact Chenin, Chardonnay and Viognier, that rivals anything I’ve ever had in the weird and wacky world of orange wines. The more standard stuff now includes a set of Bordeaux varietals, of which I was the most in impressed with his Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Franc, that I wrote about last month, but the quality of the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon will surprise fans of these grapes as well! This all new Carignane was another outstanding effort, and like the Grenache here, I loved its soulful transparency, lively nature and its pleasure on the palate. Getting this far into talking about Hardy and not gush about his Mourvèdre bottlings, all of which come from outstanding and historic sources seems like an oversight, but this wine is that good. Coming from organic vines well over 90 years old, set on alluvial and gravelly loamy soils in Mendocino, this vintage saw 90% Carignane and 10% Zinfandel in the final mix and it reminds me of my favorite Corbieres. Fermented with natural yeasts and whole bunches, the Old Vine Carignane was deeply macerated to allow all of the complexity to shine through, it was ripe, but finished with old world levels of alcohol at just 12.5%. After pressing Hardy put it into neutral wood for close to 8 months, preferring to bottle his wines fresh and preserve the wine’s vibrant personality. I see that Wallace is just about to release a whole new set of wines and I can’t wait to try them, now is a great time to get on the mailing list here.
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive