Wine of the week: Girasole Vineyards, 2020 Mendocino County Pinot Blanc
Randy Meyer was going to be a doctor. Instead, he became a winemaker who tends to the heath and welfare of grapes.
Meyer is behind our wine of the week winner — BARRA’s Girasole Vineyards, 2020 Mendocino County Pinot Blanc, 13%, at $15. This is a pinot blanc that over-delivers. It’s refreshing with layered notes of peach, apple and orange peel. This bottling has great minerality and a citrusy finish. It edged out the other tasty contenders in The Press Democrat’s flight of wines because of its caliber of pinot blanc at this price point.
“I’m all about balance,” Meyer said. “My goal is to balance intensity with finesse and let the fruit tell the story. Our goal with this wine is to provide customers with a wine that’s not too sweet and not too dry. This wine is 100% (aged in) stainless steel with no oak influence. We want it to be crisp, clean and deliver an appealing mouthfeel.”
Other tasty exotic whites include Chappellet, 2020 Napa Valley Chenin Blanc, 14.1%, $40; Marimar Estate, 2020 Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley Godello, 13.2%, $42; Fel, 2020 Anderson Valley Pinot Gris, 13.4%, $28; and Pellegrini, 2018 Olivet Lane Vineyard, Russian River Valley Late Harvest Chardonnay, 17.8%, $40.
As for the Girasole, Meyer said most people don’t know that pinot blanc is a white grape mutation of pinot noir and that most are produced abroad.
“There aren’t a lot of domestic pinot blancs on the market,” he said. “Most hail from the Alsace region or Italy under the name pinot bianco. It might also surprise people to know that only approximately 322 acres of this grape are still in production in all of California, according to the USDA’s report by acreage by varietal.”
BARRA grows 14.5 acres of pinot blanc in Mendocino County with organic grapes certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers organization.
The winemaker said he’s a good fit to produce pinot blanc with this winery because he likes that there are no pesticides, herbicides or non-organic fertilizers used in the vineyard. Meyer also likes the hands-on approach to winemaking, with shoot thinning, shoot positioning, fruit dropping and leaf pulling. The pinot blanc is also picked and sorted by hand.
“We’re fortunate to have two separate blocks of pinot blanc that ripen at different times,” Meyer said. “This allows us the opportunity to make a more complex wine. We’re able to tailor our winemaking technique to maximize attributes of each block.”
Meyer, 58, is the director of winemaking and operations for BARRA of Mendocino and Redwood Valley Cellars, the winery’s custom crush and storage facility.
The winery planted its pinot blanc in the 1970s, and Meyer said it has fine-tuned its ability to find the ideal time to harvest the grape.
“The final picking decision sets you on the right course,” he said. “When the wine is gently processed without oak, it captures a delicate balance of ripe stone fruit and fresh citrus, and it’s a winning combination.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-5310.
Wine, The Press Democrat
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