Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday's Wines: Forlorn Hope Nodosaur

There is a lot more to California wine than just Napa and Sonoma. Places like Lodi, Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles and Santa Barbara tend to take a back seat to their more prestigious North Coast brethren, but often proved a greater variety and value when it comes down to what's in the bottle. Somewhat amazingly, over half of the 230+ American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the country call California home. I'd be willing to be that most wine consumers would have trouble naming 10% of those California AVAs (even if they knew what an AVA is!).

Now, imagine wines labeled with just a county designation instead of an AVA. What would seeing Calaveras County on a label mean to wine consumer? You'd probably be hard pressed to guess what's in the bottle on that information alone. Well, Matt Rorick of Forlorn Hope decided to do just that when his family and he purchased an old beat-up vineyard up on the slopes east of Stockton. As a winery not known for producing the market-darling varieties, the collection of 'forgotten' cultivars found in a forgotten region up in the Sierra Foothills should fit right into Forlorn Hope's portfolio of Rare Creatures often labeled with fanciful names instead of the cultivars. After all, Rorick is a champion of cultivars more similar to David than the goliath Cabernet Sauvignon.

Forlorn Hope 2013 Nodosaur
It just so happens that I cracked open a bottle of Forlorn Hope 2013 Nodosaur (14.07% abv, Purchased $26) this week. This unidentified field blend of white grapes (Rorick told me it is a blend of Viognier, Picpoul and Albariño) grown on limestone slopes is a lovely wine. Rorick writes about this wine as a "liquid paleontological journey into Calaveras County." The corked showed some signs of seepage, so I was a bit worried when I poured the wine, but was quickly put at ease when I smelled the abundant pear and apple fruit aromas with a suggestions of aromatic cocktail bitters at the end. The pomaceous characteristics followed to the palate, but waltzed around the glass with a pretty little citrus note all on top of a beautiful stone floor. Each sip allowed the flavors to continue spinning around each other in perfect rhythm. The texture of this wine - a sort of smooth chalkiness that isn't too round or sharp - makes it all that much more enjoyable. Despite the unique blend, I think the Viognier provides most of the identifiable traits, while the other components continue to keep your palate at attention, not quite sure what the next step of the dance will be. I'm glad I have another bottle and I hear that the 2014 version (Picpoul, Albariño, Verdelho, and Muscat) is soon to be available...

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