Friday, June 16, 2017

Got Festive? - Fizzy Malvasia Bianca

A recent Brandlive virtual tasting featured the wines of Napa-based Onward Wines. They are what the PR department calls, "single-vineyard, site-driven wines crafted by one of the most exciting winemakers out there." They’re talking about Faith Armstrong-Foster, whose "mantra" is, "I could never make a wine I couldn’t afford to enjoy myself." She grew up in British Columbia, a good little Canadian girl who went to school every day in a tiny boat called - wait for it - the Onward.

Armstrong says her wines are site-driven, and she owes part of her success to the growers with whom she has partnered - Hawkeye Ranch, Cerise Vineyard, Capp Inn Ranch, Casa Roja Vineyard, Ledgewood Vineyard, Knox Vineyard and Babcock Vineyard. A smaller part of her success could probably be attributed to that little boat. Onward Wines was created in 2009 and she has another line, called Farmstrong.

Charles Communication, the PR folks who staged the virtual tasting, tweeted "Faith fell in love with #wine while shoveling a fermenter - that's #truelove for you."

Pet Nat of Malvasia Bianca, Pétillant Naturel 2015

Pétillant Naturel is a type of sparkling wine made in the méthode ancestrale. This means the wine is bottled before the primary fermentation is finished, no additional yeasts or sugars, as in méthode champenoise. The wine is typically cloudy, funky, low in alcohol and sealed under a crown cap, like a bottle of beer.

The grapes, Malvasia Bianca, are from the Capp In Ranch in Solano County's Suisun Valley. The wine retails for $24, or at least it did until it sold out.

This pet-nat, as the style is called, is very cloudy, very yeasty and thoroughly enjoyable. The earthy, musty nose is as savory as can be, yet with a strong citrus element. On the palate, acidity is racy and the flavors lean toward the savory side of lemon-lime. Strong minerals provide a nice underpinning. The fizziness is somewhat less than found in other sparkling wines, but there’s enough there to qualify as "festive." This is a great wine to have as an aperitif or just because, but the acidity and mineral aspect will allow pairings with a wide range of dishes involving vegetables or light-colored meat.