To the Mission

Sabelli-Frisch Mission Wine

Light, clear garnet. It seriously looks like Nebbiolo in the glass, but that is where the comparison ENDS. Spicy nose, beautiful baked goods, cherry syrup–but not cloying and liqueur-ish–not really maraschino at all, more of a Rutherford dust sorta richness, a smoky campfire and warm soil explanation in the bouquet. Rich and decadent, but not thick and clogging–a deep-seated beef-blood dusted with fresh nutmeg and clean acid wall in the back everything refreshes to.

I’ve followed Mission for years. I don’t claim to be an expert on it, but having a fair grasp of California’s winemaking history, it has always fascinated me. And be clear: I am NOT talking strictly of MODERN California winemaking history–since the turn-of-the-century and especially since prohibition–no no, I’m talking LONG California history, think: THE MISSIONS, Junipero Serra, the El Camino Real, and all that. Although usually limited to every CA 5th-grader’s life, I have actually visited probably at least 20 of the missions from Baja to Sonoma (Ft. Ross is NOT a mission, but…) as an intrigued adult and many of them have serious wine-making apparatus intact (San Juan Bautista has probably the best).

Once a workhorse of CA wine–and nearly synonymous with “California”, it has long been replaced in favor by Carignane, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Cabernet–not necessarily in order. The wines it made were of a style I would not recommend to most readers of this blog. With the discovery of pockets or this rustic variety still alive, that has changed.

In the mouth, all those juxtapositions come to life again. Thick and juicy, the fruit oozes and congeals on the tongue, but the grippy bite will not let it adhere. Ridiculous ripe cranberry and an ethereal rusticity join forces to introduce the delightfully bitter-green finish. An absolute stunner. Near-perfection in a wine–restrained GORGEOUSNESS–I don’t care WHAT the variety is.

2018 SABELLI-FRISCH ‘La Malinche’ Mission Mokelumne California 13.6

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