2022 La Marea by Ian Brand, Albarino “Alt Cut” Kristy Vineyard, Monterey County.
One of Monterey’s most satisfying and pure wines, the special edition of Ian Brand’s Albarino from the stony Kristy Vineyard called the Alt Cut sees a little skin contact and was originally done with a special batch of grapes that was vineyard yeast fermented or Pied de Cuve and was whole cluster pressed, giving more distinction and intensity of flavors. This vintage Alt Cut version is wonderfully stylish and, like I’ve mentioned before, is far more true in character with the Spanish Rias Baixas wines that inspired it, with electric acidity and green apple leading the way along with layers of citrus, melon and fleshy white peach, finishing with tangy notes, white blossoms and saline infused wet rock. The 2022 is medium bodied and generous, a tad more textural than is usually the case, but still bone dry and fabulously detailed throughout with a little touch of bitter almond and the natural acidity adding a nice tension. Soaked on the skins, the grapes are left for two days in cold vats, fermented cool and then aged with minimal lees contact, after which, it was bottled early to preserve its verve.

Ian Brand has fallen in love with white varietals and sees Monterey County and the central Coast as prime terroir to really create some magical stuff, with his Melon, Chenin Blanc, Arneis, skin contact Pinot Gris and the two versions of Albarino rally expressing that potential, not to mention his outstanding Sauvignon Blanc and unique Chardonnay offerings. Recently Ian told he was going to even out his lineup between red and white wines and was on the hunt for exotic white grapes and may help plant some himself, with the potential to add some more Italian varietals and even some Assyrtiko, the Greek white grape, most commonly found on the island of Santorini, which Ian so close up on a visit to the Greece this Summer. So it is exciting times for California wines and lots to look forward to, though there’s a lot to admire in the present and this new release of Brand’s Alt Cut, think extended disco mix, Albarino is tasty right now and goes great with oysters and mussels as well as going great with grilled Sardines and or squid. The La Marea line, as noted, is Brand’s Spanish inspired set of Garnacha (Grenache) and Albarino offerings, and are fantastic values for the quality in the bottle, I highly recommend checking them out.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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