Where: Ricci Vineyard, Carneros, Sonoma County
Why: Well. When was the last time you tried a St. Laurent? And, this one is freaking delicious.
How: With six acres planted to the variety, Ricci Vineyard is the only site in California that produces St. Laurent. Ricci Vineyard is farmed and owned by Dale Ricci, the “Godfather of St. Laurent” himself.
Maura Johnson operates March Wines with her husband Charley, a fellow winemaker whom she met at a Napa Valley harvest party. “March” is taken from each of their first names, and each holds down a day job at other wineries while running this project. (Can you say “hustle”?) March produces an old-vine Reisling, as well as a Rosé and a still wine from the St. Laurent of Ricci Vineyard.
Maura speaks to the allure of St. Laurent:
Since the original goal of March Wines was to make wines completely different than what we make at our day jobs, it was really difficult to come to an agreement. We definitely didn’t want to be another one of the 500 Cabernet or Pinot producers. We wanted to have a creative outlet to try something more unique. One of my friends had previously mentioned the St. Laurent to me, so when I found out it was available, we jumped on it.
The 2018 vintage was our first time buying the fruit, so we only bought a few tons, with a quarter of it going direct to press to make Rose. Since it was our first year and we went a little winemaker-nerdy on it, we split the remaining portion into three fermentations, each with varying levels of destemmed berries, stems, and whole-cluster fruit. We aged in neutral oak barrels and bottled early to accentuate the bright fruit and lighter style.
There isn’t a flavor profile quite like St. Laurent. It’s always fun to hear how people describe it when they taste it for the first time. I often describe it as a combination of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Gamay. It is very perfumed and floral on the nose, dark cherry, bright fruit, and a little pepper on the palate and very low tannin. The St. Laurent grape is naturally an early ripener, hitting peak ripeness around 20 brix. This results in low alcohol and great acid retention, but still has enough anthocyanin to make you think you’re drinking an inky red.
Intrigued? Sample it yourself. March Wines St. Laurent is available here>
Or, get a taste at this weekend’s OutsideLands Festival!