2020 Jolie-Laide, Red Wine, Trousseau Noir/Cabernet Pfeffer/Gamay, California.
Scott Schultz’s latest California Red Blend is made from an interesting combination of grapes, including Trousseau Noir, Cabernet Pfeffer and Gamay from a diverse array of vineyard sites through out the state and made in a natural semi carbonic way, making it a delightfully fun quaffer with racy red fruits on the medium bodied palate that is in particular great with rustic and or simple cuisine. This vibrant and slightly cloudy unfiltered red enjoys being served slightly chilled and excels with a meal, I had it with a spicy pasta dish that had a good dose of hot Calabrian peppers in it and this Jolie-Laide red provided a refreshing juiciness and pleasure. With air this wine gains a pretty array of fruit, including sweet and sour cherry, red currant, pomegranate and tree picked plum as well as hints of earth, minty herbs, blood orange, cinnamon(y) spices, dried tobacco leaf and a potpourri note. The red fruits are ripe, but there is good tart burst of natural acidity that reminds me of some of wines from the Cheverny region in the Loire Valley that are typically made with Gamay, Pineau d’Aunis, Cot (Malbec) and Pinot Noir or a red blend from the Jura, where you find Trousseau blended with Poulsard, Pinot Noir and even some Gamay as well. The Jolie-Laide wines are made with lots of whole-cluster, native yeasts and are generally aged in neutral French oak and with some in concrete tank, with everything done to promote purity and transparency, most all the grapes are from family owned vineyards that are farmed using holistic and or full organic methods.

Jolie-Laide is a small lot Sebastopol winery where the talented winemaker Scott Schultz, who also works at Pax, makes only around 500 cases of wine a year. Every year Jolie-Laide’s offerings get more and more exciting with some cool hand crafted stuff, like this uniquely Californian red blend and a pair of world class Syrahs, one from my favorite Halcon Vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands. The name Jolie-Laide, which loosely translates to “Pretty-Ugly”, a French term of endearment to describe something that is unconventionally beautiful, very fitting to Scott’s delicious collection of wines. Scott, who moved to California in 2007 to be closer to his passion of wine has put some quality time in at Ryme Cellars and Arnot-Roberts, along with the mentioned Pax Cellars getting tons of experience, which has paid off in his own efforts, especially giving him access to great vineyard sites and some rare varieties of grapes, like Trousseau, Trousseau Gris, Gamay, Melon de Bourgogne and Cabernet Pfeffer. For those that have not had or even heard of Cabernet Pfeffer, it is also known as Mourtaou, and was thought to be a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and maybe Trousseau, though still a mysterious grape variety that is planted in tiny quantities in California, mainly in the remote area of San Benito County, where Schultz sourced this from. Interestingly Cabernet Pfeffer is sometimes confused with the nearly extinct Bordeaux variety of Gros Verdot, which is similar in appearance, but not related, though found also in San Benito too. The Jolie-Laide wines sell out fast, so it is best to get on the mailing list to secure these limited offerings.
($30 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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