Maker’s Table: 2016 Reviews

2016 Annia – Annia is a white blend consisting mostly of Ribolla Gialla with some Tocai Friulano and a dollop of Chardonnay. True to the lean Massican style, Brix at harvest ranged from 19.8° to 21.6°. Fruit was whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented in French oak, mostly neutral, and some lots went through malolactic.

The result is a mouthful of herbed white peaches, honeydew, and citrus. It’s substantial, bigger than past vintages, with a fragrance of grassy herbs, honeydew, apricot, and yellow apple skin. The texture is medium and the flavors skew toward stone and pome fruits. There is a noticeable flare of wood at the mid-palate, while the finish lingers long.

Don’t serve it too cold. The fruit stands forward when it’s between 50 and 55°F, and the acidity is enough to carry it slightly warmer. Great with fresh goat cheese: the acidity is a match and the fruit a complement. Also solid with aged cheeses: clothbound cheddar, Cantal, Comté. Or try it with fish, shellfish, salad.

2016 “Hyde” Chardonnay – Winemaker Dan Petroski loves elegant whites, so he picks his Chardonnay at low potential alcohol when the acids are also profound. He sources this wine from the Hyde Vineyard in Carneros, and its Brix in the 2016 harvest was 21.5 degrees. He fermented the fruit in barrel, 85 percent new French, and suppressed malolactic.

The acidity and wood treatment make this wine largely about structure. The color is pale yellow, and its fragrance offers the keynote Chardonnay citrus-honeydew muskiness without any cream or sweetness. It inherits a roundness from the barrel, but the attack is sharp, and the wine sluices into a juicy mouthful of lemony musk before receding in an earth-toned finish.

It really needs food. The pronounced acidity makes it a good partner for fish crudo, chèvre, citrusy salads, and raw vegetables. The wood armature makes it substantial enough for foods with richness, too. Don’t serve it too cold.

2016 Sauvignon – Massican’s varietal Sauvignon Blanc is lean, as always. It’s pale, and its fragrance suggests earthy yellow citrus fruits, grass, light flowers. The midsection and finish are lemon-limey, quite sharp. This is not a tropical wine, not fruity (although there is fruit). Mostly there is acid and a spare, silvan, moonlight-through-birch-trees luminance.

The wine likes salads, slaws, fresh goat cheese, lemon-dressed fish, sushi, raw things. It also likes bottle age.

2016 Gaspare – Gaspare is the result of a collaboration between Massican winemaker Dan Petroski and two friends from Friuli, the winemakers Serena Palazzolo and Christian Patat of Ronco del Gnemiz. The trio began sourcing fruit for this wine in 2014, and 2015 was its first vintage. It’s a cuvée of 43 percent Tocai Friulano, 29 percent Ribolla Gialla, and 28 percent Chardonnay, a blend that’s a near doppelgänger of Massican’s Annia, which is grown and made in California.

They are altogether different wines, naturally. This wine is fuller bodied, with more ripeness and mouth-coating texture. It’s a little sour, somewhat green-grassy like hay, and rasps the tongue with rustic acidity. The aromas are likewise herbaceous but rounded, too, like a fruit orchard just before it quickens into ripeness. The fruit notes in the wine skew toward green pears, honeydew, and the astringency of quince. Shades of sage and sweetgrass add a field note. The wine has moderate body, but the finish has a pleasing sour bitterness that begs for food.

Pair it with a mixed cheese course targeting young and milky cheeses, especially those made from goat’s and cow’s milks. Also good with briny fish and seafood dishes punctuated by green olives and dressed in fruity olive oil.

– Meg Houston Maker

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