Idlewild Flora & Fauna Red Wine 2020
Regular price $22.00
Winemaker: Sam Bilbro
Appellation: Mendocino, California
Grape Varieties: Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo
Flora and Fauna loosely means the collection of plant and animal life of a certain epoch. In my version, it is the collection of varietals from the cellar that make up the blend for the year. For 2020, the blend is comprised of roughly 48% Dolcetto, 48% Barbera, and 4% Nebbiolo. The fruit comes from Fox Hill Vineyard and Lost Hills Ranch. Fox Hill lends depth while Lost Hills balances with vibrancy and bright aromatics. In the end, Mendocino is what is most on display with high and low tones and a very pleasant rusticity. In contrast to the varietal bottling of these wines, these grapes are from sections of the vineyard that yield lighter structure and are handled with this early to bottle style in mind.
There are so many things that can be said about 2020. Covid, fires, politics, etc all come to mind in an instant for me. But, the further I think on it, the more I find myself feeling grateful for the luck we had. The season itself was moderate, smooth, and beautiful. We somehow escaped the intensity of the smokey skies or were able to pick before there was an issue. From a viewpoint on the year capured in these bottles, it’s a shame that 2020 will always draw remarks of the hardships of the year, because hidden within the bottle (and we are lucky to get to say this) is a really beautiful vintage.
All of these varieties have structure and at the same time a joyous side. The focus in fermentation was to build enough structure for a very versatile food wine but also to emphasize the exuberant and delicious elements of each grape. To do this, the wines were left largely whole cluster and all fermentations started with carbonic maceration. That being said, none of them were pushed to be fully carbonic wines. Instead, the initial lift in aromatics and push on frothy fresh fruits was achieved, and then I fully treaded the wines to allow fermentation to switch to a more standard flow. This gave a backbone and savory qualities to act as bass notes to the carbonic high tones. All of the wines were pressed a touch early to ensure that the tannic structure was appropriate for a shorter time in barrel, just four months in neutral oak.
In Italy, the house wine is often light, fresh, and firmly structured so as to pair beautifully next to a wide range of foods, and that is the inspiration for this blend. The 2020 is both deep and savory while also being light and fresh. Dark cherry, iron and sanguine notes, warm spices, dried herbs, violets, and graphite are highlights of the aromas. The mouth feel is a joyful interplay of brightness with chewy bass notes before the seriousness kicks in with a firm acid and tannin balance on the finish.
Idlewild sources fruit from just two vineyards. Both are managed by Wild Ruth Farming, a collaboration between Idlewild and Ruth Lewandowski Wines. Holistic farming ensures that the site and vintage are allowed to speak.
Idlewild has a relatively concise aim within a broad context: to produce wines of exceptional balance and beauty. It is a journey to pursue Italy’s Piedmont in the elevated hills of Mendocino County, and to find the sides of these varieties that are intriguing, delicious, and haunting.
Each wine is unique and treated as such, though the common thread is balancing depth and seriousness with vibrancy and joy. Emphasis is on the vineyard followed by minimalist winemaking techniques. While not dogmatic in practice, an honest and sustainable approach is fundamental in making wines of purity.
Idlewild has a few homes: a lonely rolling ridge line in Yorkville Highlands, a strip of bench-land in Mendocino county, a funky warehouse turned simple winery, and a Salumi & Wine Bar just off the plaza in Healdsburg, CA.
Lost Hills Ranch sits in the elevated hills of the Yorkville Highlands in southwest Mendocino. The schist veined sandstone is planted to 15 year old Arneis, Cortese, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo.
Located in Central Mendocino County, Fox Hill Vineyard is managed by Wild Ruth. The rocky elevated slopes are planted to 20-30 year old Arneis, Cortese, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo.
Between Geyserville and Healdsburg sits our cooperative winery (Idlewild, Leo Steen, Ryme Cellars, & Ruth Lewandowski). The focus is on traditional equipment and the joy of sharing and working with friends.