2023 La Marea by Ian Brand, Cachudo, Pierce Vineyard, San Antonio Valley AVA, Monterey County.
I find Arinto to be one of Portugal’s most interesting and structured white grapes, and I was excited to try Ian Brand’s La Marea version, a totally new solo varietal bottling that is another intriguing alternative white wine from Monterey County, following Brand’s successful series of Albariño, Verdelho, Arneis, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Melon de Bourgogne. The pale gold and bone dry 2023 Cachudo (Arinto) is brightly focused with vivid citrus leading the way on the crisp and steely medium bodied and pithy palate with meyer lemon, tangy white peach, quince, papaya and green apple fruits, along with sour grass, flinty stone, saline, bitter almond, lime blossom, wet chalk and lingering shaved orange zest. As mentioned in recent reviews, winemaker Ian Brand has told me that the soils and terroirs of Monterey County are really prime spots for expressive white grapes and he feels strongly that we are on the cusp of some remarkable changes here, moving beyond just Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and this wine certainly gives credence to what he’s told me. Especially given the local cuisine, wines like this Arinto makes perfect sense, it goes beautifully with the native catches in the Monterey Bay from sardines to squid, as well as Moroccan lemon chicken and or freshly sucked raw oysters.

Arinto, as Wines of Portugal (USA) notes, is a versatile grape, grown in most of Portugal’s wine regions, from Madeira to Vinho Verde, and on its own produces vibrant wines with lively acidity, nicely youthful refreshing and with a strong mineral undercurrent, which is in evidence here in Ian Brand’s La Marea South Monterey County version. It has long been the case, that the wines made from Arinto grapes are usually identified by their citrusy notes, such as lemon and lime, with some orange marmalade when more mature, as well as hints of green apple and tropical fruits. One of the best qualities of Arinto is its ability to retain its acidity even in warmer climates, as also see here in San Antonio Valley, which contributes to the wine’s freshness and longevity, this is especially true with some fantastic 20 year old versions from Portugal that I’ve enjoyed. Arinto, in California and in particular arid areas, was thought to be a good choice to plant as Arinto is resistant to extreme water deficits in the warmest of months, but due to its compact clusters it can be susceptible to bunch rot, though luckily enough that hasn’t been an issue according to most growers in the state. Arinto, or Cachudo, is native to the Bucelas region north of Lisboa and is also known by the following names: Arinto Cercial, Arinto d’Anadia, Arinto de Bucelas, Arinto do Douro, Azal Espanhol, Chapeludo, and Terrantez da Terceira. The cool 2023 vintage on the Central Coast is really producing some outstanding wines, and Ian Brand’s newest releases are tasty, no or low oak examples of intense purity to track down.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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