Martha Stoumen - Patatino California Nouveau 2020
50% Nero d’Avola, 45% Zinfandel, 5% Valdiguie
Mendocino County, California, United States
From the producer-
Bright aromas of apricot preserves, flint, and raspberry turn into wild blackberries and sweet tobacco on the palate.
Zinfandel from Del Barba Vineyard, Contra Costa County; planted in 1960; grown without pesticides and herbicides; dry farmed. Nero d’Avola from Fox Hill Vineyard, Talmage Bench, Mendocino County; 33 year old vines (as far as we know the oldest Nero d’Avola in CA); farmed without the use of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fungicides. Bright aromas of apricot preserves, flint, and raspberry turn into wild blackberries and sweet tobacco on the palate. A jubilant and lively wine, reminiscent of the 2019 harvest.
This wine is a celebration of everything new, especially our newest addition to the family -- our little Patatino! It seemed fitting to release our first nouveau the same year that we had our first child, a different kind of harvest. Fun fact: Patatino means little potato in Italian and is what some Italian mamas call their babes. Traditionally nouveau is a celebration of the end of harvest in France’s Beaujolais region. As a nod to the winemaking techniques of Beaujolais Nouveau production, we fermented a portion of the Nero d’Avola using carbonic maceration (whole cluster grapes, sealed into a tank filled with carbon dioxide). The resulting wine is fresh, fruit-forward, low in tannin, and ready for early consumption. With this release we also celebrate all of the bounty that the 2019 season brought us -- grapes came in super healthy and in high numbers! We wanted to capture this quality of the 2019 harvest, and nouveau is a great way to take a vintage snapshot before the wine is influenced by aging. Label art by Martha’s husband, Jon Patch. 12% alcohol. No SO2 added. All wines are vegan. 252 cases.
Martha Stoumen Wines was founded upon the desire to recapture a farming and winemaking culture that has all but faded away: a winemaking culture of patience.
For my wines I lease and farm around half of the vineyards myself. The other half are farmed by multi-generation farmers who understand their land, and their family's land, far better than I ever will, and who farm with my same philosophies in mind. Patience in the vineyard means composting rather than adding synthetic fertilizers, allowing predatory insects the ability to outcompete pests rather than spraying insecticides, and doing proper handwork, such as pruning for vine longevity rather than high yields.
In the cellar I use a minimalist winemaking approach. Patience in the cellar means letting the natural yeast and bacteria present on the grape skins perform fermentation, and allowing longer macerations and aging to provide stability rather than using added tannin, acid, or stabilizing agents in my wines. Above all, I strive to make wines that are delicious, joyful, and truly representative of California.
Martha went to work in the vineyard, olive orchard, and winery of a small farm and learning center in Tuscany after studying traditional agricultural systems and Italian during her undergraduate degree. The majority of her farm work took place in the vineyard rather than the winery, so she entered the world of wine production through the lens of a vigneronne rather than a typical modern California winemaker who spends very little to no time in the vineyard. During this time she also worked with farm animals, bees, and vegetables, and to this day views growing grapes and making wine ideally as part of a larger system.
Besides a love of food, and therefore agriculture, Martha was drawn to wine for two reasons: she relishes a tradition in which the master-apprentice relationship is still very much alive and well, and because wine is a product that sets the pace and rhythm of the winemaker’s life, rather than vice-versa. Grape growing and winemaking aligns a vigneronne’s actions with the seasons; she can neither rush the process nor slow it down. After her initial exposure to grape farming and winemaking in Tuscany, Martha began a series of apprenticeships, sandwiched around a Master's at UC Davis. Martha has had the pleasure of apprenticing under Reinhard Löwenstein (Heymann-Löwenstein, Mosel), Jordan Fiorentini (Chalk Hill, California) Chris Brockway (Broc Cellars, California), Clive Dougall (Seresin, Marlborough), Didier Barral (Léon Barral, Faugères, France), and Giusto Occhipinti (COS, Sicily). Many of these teachers have remained a part of her life as she has moved toward her own vision of making responsibly farmed, terroir-driven wines in the land that she holds so dear in her heart, California.