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|Vineyard/Cellar Practices||Organically Grown, Low-Intervention/Natural Wine, Vegan|
Stolpman Vineyards has wowed fans of site-specific, organic, low-intervention wines for two decades with their signature roussanne and syrah releases. Their location in Santa Barbara County’s Ballard Canyon, with its dry climate, exposure to the ocean, and limestone soils, has proven uniquely well situated for grape varieties associated with southeast France. Starting in 2010, Peter Stolpman began an experiment in Jura grapes—trousseau, savagnin, and later mondeuse and chenin blanc—that resulted in a new line of wines he called “Combe” (after the French word for a sheltered valley within a vineyard). The 1.5 acre plot of chenin blanc began yielding in 2016, and the results have been quite spectacular. Chenin requires incredible attention to detail at harvest: the minute grapes begin to turn yellow, that fruit is harvested, leaving the green grapes still hanging. This is done to preserve acidity - if the early ripening grapes were left on the vine so everything could be picked at one time, those early ripening grapes would rapidly lose acidity. In 2018, the chenin was harvested on three separate days in September, fermented in second-fill and neutral 500L French barrels, then aged for 19 months, also in second-fill 500L French puncheons. Bottling occurs without any added sulfur. This bottle is a luscious, powerful sipper, just beginning to hit its stride. Hints of gun smoke and toasty oak adorn bright citrus aromas. On the palate, that careful harvesting pays off in spades as brilliant acidity elevates rich, concentrated flavors of citrus, fresh green apple, honey, and oak spice. Luxuriously broad in texture, this is show stopping to drink now, but certainly displays impressive aging potential as well. Organically grown, low-intervention/natural wine, vegan.