A modern day California “Priorat”!
We started following winemaker Matt Naumann with the 2017 vintage. Alert! This rising star winemaker should definitely be on your radar! Many of you may remember his Counoise and Mourvedre from the Boz Skaggs’ Vineyard on Mount Veeder which was badly damaged from the fire in 2018.
The ‘Gravels’ blend varies by vintage and was inspired by the rugged regions that encompass the Mediterranean along the French coastline. Methods focus on highlighting Grenache’s sunlit tone and the strawberriesh-herbal perfumes and jagged textures it can provide. The balancing component of Carignane is unique in California, but classic in Catalan’s Priorat (Spain) and the Languedoc-Roussillon (France). Vinification for each individual lot is carried out over four weeks where extraction favors elegance over abundance. This wine defines Matt’s experience with the Mediterranean varietals found suitable for California’s climate and diverse geography and provides a distinct interpretation of Newfound’s ever curious and evolving winemaking efforts.
The 2019 vintage transitioned Gravels from a Grenache dominant wine to a 50/50 marriage of Grenache and Carignane. The Grenache was sourced entirely from the Cemetery Vineyard and the Carignane entirely from the Colombini Ranch. Both Menodcino sites contain similar geology and are planted in (the simplest of terms) gravel. The Grenache and all of its perfume and elegance combined with the density and nerve of the Carignane were the perfect match for Newfound’s second iteration of ‘Gravels’.
The result is perfectly balanced, smoothly paved road of spicy red fruits with earthy-shroomy minerality. The Carignane provides support and structure, plus a depth of fruit not typically offered by this varietal in California. The only thing lacking is the distinctive llicorello aromatics from Priorat’s definitive schist, but this is a very good rendition for California.
Thirty days separated the picks – as the Grenache was harvested towards the end of August with the Carignane completing harvest as the final pick coming in at the end of September. The lots were fermented separately with similar methods – 100% whole cluster, wild yeasts, one simple cap-wetting per day, and macerations lasting between 20 and 35 days. The Grenache was aged in one 2000L Austrian oval barrel, while the Carignane was aged in one 2000L French Foudré. A total of 14 months were spent in each vessel before assembly at which point the wines were racked, blended and bottled unfined and unfiltered.