In our third release of the Mélange Blanc, I can safely say that we have hit the mark of my intention for this wine. Having always loved well-made Rhone style white wines I wanted to produce the benchmark for this style on the Central Coast and beyond. While Rhone white blends may not be the wine people gravitate towards, it is such a pleasure to taste this wine with others and watch them realize that the Mélange Blanc is the white wine they didn’t know they would love. The gorgeous floral and aromatic nose, the richness on the palate, and the finish that seems to never end, all contribute to what makes this wine a personal favorite and a favorite amongst those who taste it.
2020 Walson Holland Mélange Rouge
In 2020 I decided to increase my use of whole cluster fermentation with the components of the Mélange Rouge. The previous two vintages of this wine had plenty of rich, bright fruit components and I thought that using more whole cluster would give the wine more structure and highlight the spicy and herbaceous notes that make Rhone blends so attractive to me. This is our most structured and elegant vintage of this wine to date, dark and rich fruit up front with secondary notes of mint, sage, and smoked meats are giving the Mélange Rouge a depth of character that has taken it to the next level. It’s ready to drink now but if you can hang on for 5-10 years, I think this could be the stuff of legend.
2021 Walson Holland Chardonnay
One of my favorite aspects of winemaking is getting to share the process with family and friends. I knew from the start that this Chardonnay was going to be a special wine and I couldn’t wait to share it. Early in 2022 when I began creating blends from different barrels, I asked a trusted friend to come in and try a few of the Chardonnay blends I had put together. There was an aha moment for both of us when we stuck our noses in the glass, realizing that this was the one, both of us commenting that it gave us chills. This doesn’t happen often for me, but this wine checks all the boxes of what I love about Chardonnay. Bright and energetic, yet rich and nutty with concentrated power and integrated oak that adds to the depth of character without pushing the beautiful tropical and citrus fruit to the side.
2021 Walson Holland Pinot Noir
When I think of great wine, I imagine a wine that develops over time in the glass, giving the drinker the pleasure of a great first impression that only gets better with time. This is what made me fall in love with sophisticated Pinot Noirs many years ago. Fast forward years later and I could not be more excited and proud to be making a wine that gives the drinker the opportunity to savor and ponder over its many nuanced characteristics. The 2021 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir immediately shines upon pouring but if you can be patient and allow it to really show itself you will be rewarded with complexity and subtle nuances that make this a truly special wine.
2019 Walson Holland Mélange Blanc
This is such an exciting wine for me to make. The uniqueness of each of the four varieties in this Rhône white blend allow me to craft a wine with layer upon layer of complexity both on the nose and the palate. The Viognier contributes to the beautiful floral and tropical fruit aromatics, also offering a richness to the wine. Grenache Blanc provides the acid backbone and beautiful notes of white flowers and stone fruit. The weight and texture of our 2019 Mélange Blanc comes from the Marsanne and Roussanne and they provide the mouth coating texture, rich nuttiness, and creamy roundness that makes this wine so enjoyable to drink slowly and ponder. This is why I love Rhône white wines, complex, thought provoking and a pleasure to drink.
My goal with the Mélange Rouge is to make the best wine possible with the wide array of grape varieties and vineyard sources used to craft this blend. While the components of this wine change from vintage to vintage, the thought process remains the same. It is so fascinating to bring in grapes from very different climatic regions and see how contrasting the same varieties can be grown in different areas. For instance, by using Syrah and Grenache vineyards in cool climate regions we see the more herbaceous, savory characteristics of these varieties, the warmer climate vineyards produce the rich black fruit of Syrah and the classic bright red fruit of Grenache. By blending these same but very different components, my idea is to get the best of both worlds. I love the process of blending and crafting this wine each year, using the contrasting nuances and striking similarities of each variety to make the best wine we see possible year in and year out.
It is such an honor to have the opportunity to work with Brook Williams to produce Chardonnay from his biodynamic vineyard, Duvarita. The challenges that they face with sandy soils, winds that sweep through the vineyard, the heavy fog off the coast, and cool temperatures make this vineyard a challenge for any farmer. These challenges coupled with Brook’s unwavering commitment to biodynamic practices make Duvarita Vineyard extremely low yielding in its crop but luckily the fruit that these vines produce has a depth of character and uniqueness that makes them truly special. I’m fascinated by the complexity of our 2020 vintage. Reminiscent of the iconic regions of France, our Chardonnay offers ample fruit but also a saline minerality; savory notes and a textural richness, that made me fall in love with Chardonnay from the classic producers many years ago.
When I first made this wine in 2019, I was walking the vineyard sampling the fruit before harvest and had never tasted Pinot Noir grapes with such concentrated and powerful flavors. I knew that this Pinot Noir and subsequent Pinots made from Duvarita Vineyard were going to be noteworthy wines. Because of the concentration of fruit, I ferment the Pinot Noir 100% whole cluster. In doing so, the beautiful red fruit characteristics of this Pinot are seamlessly integrated with herbaceous and savory notes giving this Pinot depth and complexity on the nose and palate. To me, this is what makes Pinot Noir a nuanced and interesting wine both to both make and enjoy. Our 2020 Duvarita Vineyard Pinot Noir is polished and beautiful, all the while rugged and refined.