Been quite looking forward to trying this wine. Valdiguie has experienced a bit of a renaissance of late, as the cool kids re-visit the heritage varieties of California. Mission, Aglianico, Carignane, Tokay… and none of them more exciting for me than Valdiguie. For decades marketed as Gamay–although the grapes are COMPLETELY different–then slowly being issued as “Napa Gamay”, finally now the far-more-difficult-to-market “Valdiguie” has taken hold on labels. It still carries a bit of the teenage sit-com typecasting of a light, fruity, easy-quaffer, though several labels are making it far seriouser. This particular producer has languished long in obscurity as just another Paso winery cranking out oddly-named blends of various quality, but recently installed a bit of a renegade as winemaker, a kid dedicated to low-intervention, minimal-extraction and purity of varietal characteristic. Contrary to popular opinion, I am rather a big fan of his approach. The single-variety bottles I have tasted in recent years have been an impressive–and refreshing–change.

The purple-ness in the glass is the first to hit you. Dense ruby-purple with more purple-pink at the rim. The nose is chunky and ripe, fruit a distilled black affair, a bit of banana and warm, moist dust, the Jolly Rancher a sticky puddle swamped in tropical flowers and clean, easy mud.

In the mouth, the chubbiness comes to fruition. A ripe, still, round mouthfeel emphasizing the simplicity of the grape–or at least this particular interpretation. Fluffy on entry and rustically still throughout, a bit of acid tingles the tongue on attack and follows through in the finish. Meager plum and berry hang out with slight inferences to gear lube and diesel-dust adding interest to sage and rosemary herbaceousness. These are all quite mild, and overall, an un-searching palate maintains a flabby feel. I will be interested in discovering the ABV, as my guesses are torn between 14-2 gloss and 12-9 imbalance. Not a particularly compelling wine, it feels obese and lacks invigorating nuance. One-dimensional. Shallow. Interesting FOR SURE, but not a strong argument for the variety.

2018 THACHER Valdiguie Shell Creek Highlands District Paso Robles 14.2

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