2018 Jaimee Motely, Claret “Borronda Block” Massa Estate Vineyard, Carmel Valley AVA, Monterey County.
Jaimee Motely’s newest release is a fun and unique interpretation of an old school Claret, a Bordeaux varietal and co-ferment blend of all organic 45% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon that was, I would think, at least partial whole cluster, semi-carbonic and naturally fermented with indigenous yeasts that makes for an expressive, fruity, spicy and wildly exciting red wine. Now, it won’t appeal to the purest amongst us, but Motely’s Massa Claret with its art deco, throw back label is wonderfully enjoyable as a fresh and quaffable wine from this historic 50 year old Carmel Valley vineyard site, a place close to my heart as a Carmel Valley native. The 2018 Massa Claret starts with shaved cinnamon, leafy notes and juicy red berry fruits in a medium dark garnet wine that bursts from the glass with smooth layers of tangy currant, plum, pomegranate and crushed vine picked wild berries, along with a hint of bell pepper, from the percentage of Cab Franc and a whispering of cedar, olive, anise and minty/sage notes. This lively red blend gains a textural mouth feel, fine grained dusty tannins and lingers with crushed flowers, a touch of earth and kirsch, I’m glad I got more than one bottle, because I really want to see how this (low natural alcohol, 12.8%) Massa Claret develops in the bottle, even though it is bright and delicious now, it might prove to be even more complex in 3 to 5 years. Motely says, rather than a Bordeaux style wine, she more inspired by the co-fermented field blends that she has tasted from the Loire Valley, and I think it has an Anjou kind of thing going on and can see where she was going here. Motely, who has enjoy a fast rise in the wine world, gained her experience by working in both the northern and southern hemispheres in the cellar and in the vineyards as well, she also spent time traveling to Europe to walk the classic vineyards and spoke with vignerons who have a coveted history in the field of viticulture and that inspired her passions for wine and its culture.

Jaimee, who has been an assistant winemaker at legendary Syrah producer Pax Wines, is most known for her work with Mondeuse, a rare Savoie grape and her work at Pax Mahle’s facility in Sebastopol, California. Motely, who was introduced to this rustic old Carmel Valley site by winemaker Ian Brand, was clearly moved by what see saw here, noting that from the moment she first laid eyes on the place, Massa Vineyard, she felt an electric energy (from the vines) coursing through her veins. The Massa Estate sits at about 1400 feet above see level in the mountainous Cachagua area in the deep end of Carmel Valley. The Durney family originally planted 80 acres here in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, where they made long aging and powerful wines before selling the property to the Heller family in early 1990s. The Heller’s certified the vineyard organic, and focused on that niche for many years with Cabernet and old vine Chenin Blanc being their mainstay wines. After the Heller’s past away the Massa Family bought up the estate and continued that tradition, even trying out biodynamics to rejuvenate the vines from some neglect when they took over in 2018. The soils here consist, as Motely notes, are made up of granite, sandstone, and calcareous ancient marine deposits. This dry-farmed vineyard is mostly on their own roots, especially the early Borronda Block Cabernet plantings. This new Massa Claret was aged on the lees in neutral French oak barrels for close to a year then rested for a short time in bottle. Jaimee Motely was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland and has a lifetime of restaurant experience and has worked with Raj Parr, the famous sommelier, at RN74 and fell in love with the new California wine scene, getting her feet wet making wine in 2015. She has quickly gained a reputation for her talents, with her limited lineup of wines quickly selling out, I highly recommend getting on her mailing list and getting some of this stuff!
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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