The SOMM Journal

June / July 2017

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Page 69 of 124

{ }  69 Spring oxalis blooms in the Lester Vineyard in Corralitos, Pleasant Valley. Big Basin 2014 Roussanne, Homestead Block, Santa Cruz Mountains (SRP $48) While it is challeng - ing to grow this Rhône grape in the appellation's cool climate, there is enough exposure near the top of the estate vineyard to produce a tightly coiled, acid-driven rendition of the variety, still oozing with sensations of raw honey, apricot, fresh citrus and flowery fruit—its purity preserved by racking out of barrel at 11 months into stainless steel, where the wine spent another four months before bottling. It's a refreshing departure from the fat, blowsy style typifying most California Roussannes. Big Basin 2013 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah, Santa Cruz Mountains (SRP $55) There are Syrahs that knock your socks off and Syrahs that whisper in a more feminine Northern Rhône–like fashion. Brown has dialed in the latter, classic, floral style—super violet perfume with foresty nuances— that is lean, tight, zesty and vibrant. He uses a two percent Viognier co- ferment, and the wine is aged strictly in 300-liter steam-bent hogsheads to minimize wood tannin and toastiness, hence a sense of sweetness defined by pure mountain-grown fruit rather than caramelized oak or watered- back ripeness. Mountains (SRP $48) Mountains (SRP $55) Clay amphora, concrete square and steel barrel fermenters at Big Basin Vineyards. Valley area, further south in the appella- tion). With better farming, we can do more whole-cluster fermentation—about 50 percent for the Grenache, and two/thirds to 100 percent for Pinot Noir—because we get good [stem] lignification, even when picking earlier, at lower sugars." A sampling of this "evolved" approach, epitomizing contemporary Santa Cruz Mountains winegrowing:

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