2019 Storm Wines, Gamay, Presqu’ile Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley.
The bright and savory toned 100% Gamay from Ernst Storm at Storm Wines is a more serious and less frivolous style example of this grape and has quite a dry tangy impact on the palate, but becomes more open as it unfolds with air in the glass revealing a core of zesty red fruits, orange peel, floral notes and wild herbs. Ernst says he used traditional methods here on his Gamay, meaning he treated it very much like his Pinot Noirs with mainly de-stemmed grapes and gentle pressing with daily punch downs employed with cool maceration and aging in mainly neutral French oak barrels to allow the varietal to show its purity and elegant side. This long cool growing season gave solid structural form and tart fruit on the medium bodied palate with non of the bubble gum fruitiness of carbonic maceration and it shows a mix of red berries, plum and cherry along with a touch of strawberry, anise, umami and mineral. There’s plenty of zippy acidity to keep things cooly fresh, though it is best served slightly chilled and with simple foods. There are some really good Gamays out there these days with this Storm joining Arnot-Roberts, Pax, Joyce and Pence, to name a few, all being quality California versions. On day two, as a side note, this Storm Gamay really turned on the charm and took on a lovely silkiness and extra length on the finish, making me want to hold my other bottle for another year or so, impressive.
Storm has been gaining a lot of attention for their Pinot Noir and Syrah, but in recent years has shown a real gift with Sauvignon Blanc, making some of the best examples on the Central Coast, especially the Kingsley Vineyard in Los Olivos and the Presqu’ile Vineyard, like this Gamay, coming from the Solomon Hills AVA in the Santa Maria Valley. Ernst Storm, originally from South Africa, has found a home here in Santa Barbara County and was easily embraced by the local community. His brother, Hannes, makes wine in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley area of South Africa under the Storm Wines SA label, and it was his wines I tried first, which led me to search out Ernst’s stuff, with both brothers showing a gift with Pinot Noir. Storm has become quite attached to the Presqu’ile Vineyard, located, as mentioned in the Solomon Hills zone on the Southern edge of the Santa Maria Valley. The cool Pacific Ocean breeze coupled with old marine floor soils, Storm says, makes this site perfect for growing his cool climate Sauvignon Blanc as well as this Gamay. The Sauvignon Blanc 2020 bottling, which he is just releasing was aged for 6 months on the lees and uniquely in 100% Acacia wood barrels, giving texture without oaky influence. When, back to this vividly ruby red Gamay, you compare it stylistically to Cru Beaujolais, it is more Sophie Dubois like, rather than Lapierre. These Storm offerings are wines to search out, especially the regular Santa Barbara Pinot as well as the Presqu’ile Vineyard efforts.
($38 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive