2018 Ser, Sparkling Riesling, Wirz Vineyard, Cienega Valley, San Benito County.
I hadn’t had Ser in a while, so it was great that a colleague who works for another winery splashed me this zesty and bright Sparkling Riesling, it really hit the spot and reminded me that I need to check out this small winery’s latest releases. This 2018 Wirz Vineyard dry Riesling bubbly was made in the classic Methode Champenoise style, and the wine spent 16 months en tirage, on the lees and then disgorged for impeccable clarity and elegance. The pure Riesling flavor profile, with green apple, tart peach, racy lemony citrus along with the doughy brioche make for an easy to love sipper that can be enjoyed with or without food, though I highly recommend having it with shellfish, like oysters, clams or mussels. The aromas are muted, but the mineral chalkiness is delightful and as someone that is a noted Riesling geek, I loved how Sekt (German Sparkling Wine) like this wine is and how zingy the acidity is. I have been a fan of Nicole Walsh’s Ser wines for a while now and in the past was thrilled by her Enz Vineyard Cabernet Pfeffer, coming from those 133 year old vines. Cab Pfeffer is, as Walsh notes, a synonym for a rare grape variety grown in Southern France, called Mourtaou, and hers is a beauty, putting a spotlight on this dry farmed, head trained, and sustainable grown vines set on decomposed granite and limestone soils, like what this Wirz Riesling comes from. Ser also does a fabulous Cab Pfeffer Rosé to go with the red and I am looking forward to see the 2021 version that should be coming out soon.

Winemaker, Nicole Walsh, who has been girl Friday behind Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon for more than 15 years, created her Ser label to step out of the shadows of other wineries and present her own style to the world, with many unique bottlings, like this Sparkling Riesling. She says that Ser is an artisanal winery, crafting small lots wines, based out of Santa Cruz, CA, and specializes in pure varietal offerings, single vineyard designate, old world style wines. These are produced in a natural way, which she adds, to allow the expression of their varietal character and the vineyards from which they are sourced, highlighting the terroir influence. Ser works closely with Pat Wirz, getting 90+ year old Cabernet Pfeffer and 60 year old Riesling grapes from his all tended vines. The Wirz vineyard is located in the Cienega Valley (San Benito County), in the foothills of the Gabilan Mountain Range, it sits at about 1100 ft above sea level and nearly 25 miles from the Pacific. Some of the crazy may have rubbed off Mr Grahm, but certainly the joy of being different and celebrating wine has, and Walsh’s wines reflect this and her wines are lovely and rewarding bottles. Ser was founded in 2012 with grapes sourced from coastal sites primarily, with a collection of vineyards that were and are influenced by the Pacific Ocean. Nicole focused on these cool climate, central coast vineyards, which included vines in appellations like the Santa Cruz Mountains, Cienega Valley in San Benito, where Wirz sits, as well as Santa Lucia Highlands and more recently, she added Edna Valley to the lineup. These make up the core of the Ser efforts, they give Nicole a fresh palate of flavors to work with, providing vibrancy and balance throughout her collection.
($34 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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