2018 Dirty & Rowdy Family Winery, MSG, Chalone AVA, Monterey County.
Hardy Wallace and Matt Richardson, Dirty & Rowdy’s founders and winemakers, have crafted a gorgeous Chateauneuf du Pape style red from the chalky limestone soils of Chalone that is led by their favorite Mourvedre along with a good dose of Syrah and some Grenache grapes, making for a dark purple/garnet fruit forward and spicy wine that highlights the beautiful nature of vintage and place. Dirty & Rowdy only made six barrels of their Live Monterey County MSG (about 41% Mourvedre, 39% Syrah, and the rest Grenache) with fruit coming from some of their prized vineyards within the Chalone zone where they have been getting Mourvedre, Melon (once thought to be Pinot Blanc!) and Grenache for many years now. This 2018 shows an energetic dark force of fruit flavors on the full bodied palate with exceptional purity showing black raspberry, marionberry, sweet tree picked plum, pomegranate and blueberry coulis along with perfumed florals, zesty spices, anise and a fine chalky/stony note. This wine feels fabulous and has crisp detailing with a nice cut of acidity, low alcohol at around 13.3% and keeps revealing additional layers as it opens with a touch of Mourvedre meatiness, savory elements from the use of whole bunches with stem inclusion and sticky lavender notes. Richardson and Wallace, who’s winery facility is in Santa Rosa, source grapes from all over the state, they have searched out prime locations to get Mourvedre (also known as Mataro) with vines in the Sierra Foothills, Contra Costa, San Benito and Monterey County, which supplies these grapes with the old Antle Vineyard and Brousseau playing leading roles. This MSG goes best with simple or country style cuisine, I enjoyed it with left over pasta, but it would be excellent with brisket, tri-tip and or Turkish lamb kabobs.
Dirty & Rowdy is a breathe of fresh air in California’s new generation of producers, always being unpretentious, full of humble humor and playful their presentation of the wines which are crafted in a freewheeled natural way as to allow a certain raw and un-fiddled with transparency on full display, they employ native yeast fermentations with no additions or adjustments except in the most challenging of situations and age the wines primarily in old neutral French barrels. They also have been exploring skin contact whites, with their Semillon being of particular interest with its concrete egg aging adding to the intrigue. That all said, these wines are pretty serious in terms of complexity, especially this stunning Rhone style red, it could easily be mistaken for an old world wine with its poise and slightly dusty flavors and while boldly California fruit dominated it never gets flabby or dull and it would impress in a blind tasting, not question. I love this bottling, although it is going to be hard to get at stage, it is worth chasing down, but never fear if you can’t get any, as the 2019 vintage should be just as delicious and maybe even better. Wallace is one of the great unfiltered characters and I highly recommend checking his Instagram out, he has some fantastic vineyard footage and lots laughs to enjoy. I got turned on to Dirty & Rowdy by Ian Brand, one of Monterey’s top winemaking guns and vineyard whisperer, who also makes tasty Mourvedre as well. Brand has the opinion that Rhone grapes have starring role in Chalone and are the future of this unique terroir, after enjoying this bottle, I whole heartedly agree! I suggest getting on the mailing list and be sure to explore their Enz Vineyard Mourvedre, the Shake Ridge Mourvedre and the Dirty & Rowdy entry level and fantastically quaffable California Familiar Mourvedre.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive