You're about to fall in love...all over again.
We're big believers in second chances and sometimes, when it's truly meant to be, magic happens. You may remember our Contact High "orange" wine from last summer. This sexy skin-fermented white wine blended nine different varieties into a golden haze of flavor and complexity. Well, surprise, surprise, we didn't bottle all of it. We held back a few kegs for an experiment and it is going to forever alter what you think is possible in winemaking.
A few years ago, we became fascinated with a winemaking technique called "ripasso," which translates to "repassed" in Italian. Using this method, leftover grape skins from one fermentation are added to a different fermentation for a period of extended maceration to impart additional flavor and color into the wine. In Italian winemaking, this is used to increase tannins in red wines, but Bertus had an even wilder application that we just couldn't not do. Tank's take on ripasso. We hope you are sitting down for this.
The plan? Take our extra Contact High juice and ripasso it with Black Sears Zinfandel skins. Mic drop.
In case you are unfamiliar, the Black Sears Vineyard sits high atop Napa Valley's Howell Mountain and just may produce the best Zinfandel in the entire world. This former apple orchard was converted into a vineyard in the late 1970s by Joyce Black and Jerre Sears and is now known for its organic and biodynamic farming practices and Zinfandel legendary for its intensity of flavor and black pepper complexity. We'll save this story for another day, but we got some of this Zinfandel in 2021 and felt the skins were too valuable to simply throw away after its primary fermentation.
So after pressing off our Black Sears Zinfandel, we took the leftover skins and added them to a tank containing our excess Contact High for ripasso. After 24 hours we tried a sample and knew we had something special, but we decided to extend the soak for 7 total days to allow our juice to extract all the red fruit flavor and spice it could from the Zinfandel. As a refresher, Contact High was comprised of 32% Viognier, 19% Chardonnay, 19% Picpoul, 13% Marsanne, 6% Grenache Blanc, 6% Grenache, 3% Mourvèdre, 1% Bourboulenc, and 1% Counoise. This plus Zinfandel extraction further saturated the orange color and created flavors unlike any we have had before in wine.
All around, Nora is drop-dead gorgeous, but its vibrant tangerine hue is mesmerizing. It may be the orangest orange wine we have made too. Aromatically, it is packed full of tangy fruit and an arousing floral perfume that is simply irresistible. In your mouth, it is exhilarating, balancing bright concentrated flavors with elegance. Smooth sexy flavors of wild strawberries slide across your tongue with complementary notes of apricots, rainier cherries, and honeysuckle. But what really gets us hot is that signature Black Sears pepper spice that gracefully integrates with the fruit flavors to make a wine that is smooth and delicious, but also complex and sophisticated. Wow with this wine. Fucking Bertus, you did it again.
When we first sampled this experiment, our minds went to Motown and the smooth, soulful sounds of doo-wop and R&B from the early 1960s. Our winemaking team even gave this wine a name, "Nora," which they lovingly called it throughout the ripasso process. All of this left our imaginations longing for a showgirl from the early-'60s, who dazzled us with striking beauty and elegance. Nora, we fell in love with you.
El Dorado County
Strawberries, apricots, and black pepper.
32% Viognier, 19% Chardonnay, 19% Picpoul, 13% Marsanne, 6% Grenache Blanc, 6% Grenache, 3% Mourvedre, 1% Bourboulenc, 1% Counoise left on 2021 Black Sears Zinfandel skins for 7 days
75 Cases Made
Drink by 2027