“We made a Gamay.” Nothing gets my adrenaline going like these words from a winemaker you love. Andrew Tow–long a favorite of mine for Sonoma Coast Burgs and Sierra Foothill Rhones–whispered this to me as he drew a bottle from under the counter a couple years ago at World Of Pinot. OK, so he probably shouted it–since you can’t hear yourself THINK at WOPN–but the effect was the same. Grassy, green and brilliant–its ruby transparency glowing in the glass–quite shocking to taste in a room full of Pinot producers: most of which seem bent on out-macerating, out-concentrating, out-ripening, and out-jamming their pouring neighbors. Refreshing, actually, and he quickly made sure samples were in my hands at home where I could thoughtfully dissect them.
This one’s had a year to contemplate life in the cellar, and 3-6 years is really where I like to drink them anyway. The clear garnet does not subtract from its concentrated taste, and the peppery spice and brilliant acid clamor away at the delicious light cherry and strawberry, creating an angst-ridden mouthful bent on sex with your taste-buds. Perfectly bitter and savory and sweet, it drives a stiff berry nail into riffs splayed open by structure. The fruit is not bubble-gum, and the earth is not petrol or even especially barnyardy. It dances in the mouth with serious aplomb and there’s literally NOTHING you can hate about it. Just stupidly delicious, it re-enforces why we all love this grape.
2018 THE WITHERS Gamay Noir El Dorado Sierra Foothills California 13.4