2018 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Gruner Veltliner, La Playita Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
One of the central coast’s most intriguing alternative whites has to be Richard Alfaro’s estate grown Gruner Veltliner, the Austrian national grape famously grown along the Danube River to the west of Vienna in the Wachau, where like here, makes for a mineral driven dry white wine with interesting stony fruit and bright acidity. Alfaro has crafted a slightly richer denser version in 2018 without losing its vibrant and zesty character, it certainly has a palate impact and loads of extract with a touch of leesy like roundness, highlighting this exceptional vintage. This La Playita Vineyard edition GruVee is serious stuff along the lines of some of the legends of Gruner such as Hirtzberger, Pichler, Knoll, Hirsch, Berger, Nigl and Ingrid Groiss to name of few (of my particular) favorites that make dry crisp styles, but with depth and mouth feel. This 2018 is cool and steely, it starts briskly with lemon/lime and white peach fruits with a touch of loam, almond oil, verbena and wet rock before opening up and filling out with a touch of green apple and muskmelon which adds a fleshy dimension along with just a hint of herbs and brioche. This wine has the same stylish appeal as you would find in a Sur Lie aged Muscadet going great with fresh shucked oysters and or other local sea foods and soft cheeses as well as being a nice Summer sipper.
The 2018 Alfaro Family Vineyards La Playita Gruner was aged 6 months in neutral oak and comes from estate vines set in the unique terrior of Corralitos, at the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation on some sandy loams. These soils give lots of fruit detail and the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean less that 10 miles away preserves a fresh intensity of form in the wine. The South facing La Playrita (Little Beach in Spanish) Vineyard site sits at approximately 500 feet of elevation and next to a seasonal stream, this parcel is at the coolest spot on the Alfaro farm. When planted in 2008, Alfaro notes, there were only about 10 acres of Gruner Veltliner in all of California, and with the wine’s success that acreage is growing and today there are approximately 170 acres more planted, and there is sizable number in Oregon now too. Alfaro’s efforts have been brilliant, and now there are even some cult wines coming from his vines with Vocal Gruner and even Arnot-Roberts making one from these vines, while we are also now seeing fine examples of this varietal coming from Santa Barbara County, Edna Valley and the Sonoma Coast. I’ve tasted this bottling a three occasions now and it has got better each time making me think it can age a few years with no problem, but of course it is wonderful right now, drink anytime.
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive