Forlorn Hope ‘C/Ghost’ Mondeuse, Estate Vineyard, Calaveras County, California 2017
GRAPE: 100% MONDEUSE [mohn-DEUHZ]
Mondeuse in California has been mostly very rare and entirely confusing. There were a number of vines that were thought to be Mondeuse and were instead Italy’s Refosco, and vice versa. So although the two grapes may be related through a Syrah family lineage, it was not until 2008 or so that they were corrected as being two entirely different varieties. Moving forward, the Mondeuse grape has a bright future even though a large portion of the wine drinking world still has yet to have tried a Mondeuse wine. As hip and trendy as the eclectic reds from the more northern Jura region have become, it would seem that the delightfully complex Mondeuse grape easily has a broader appeal and greater potential for stardom.
GROWER: Matthew Rorick takes an old soul approach to his wines that is rarely seen here in California. Everyone talks about the idea of listening to what the vintage, and of course the soils, tell you about how a specific wine may eventually taste, but his Forlorn Hope wines seem a touch more wonderfully transparent to those influences. Besides making wines from so many different grape varieties (18 available through our distributor at the time of writing) Rorick also understands that one of the most often overlooked, and yet vitally important ingredients in a great wine, is time. Kudos again. And, as mentioned, his recent work in the vineyards (we can only hope) will inspire others to do the same, by thinking outside the box when it comes to what grape varieties should be championed in California.
TASTING NOTES: Beautifully aromatic from the start – lavender and rosemary herbaceousness steeped in lush black cherry juice. The warm and dark berried fruit is saturated but not at all over ripe or dense, and the tannins on the finish are much more velvety than gripping. Instead, you’re left with a slight touch of bitter notes that are pleasantly balanced like a great cup of coffee. There is also a perfect peppery note from the stems that remind me of Côte Rôtie; not bad company to be compared to. These are all typical varietal qualities of Mondeuse that have helped turn it into a bit of a rockstar discovery for those in the know, and this wine will hopefully open more peoples minds to discovering their love for this grape.
A SEVEN PERCENT STORY
With Grape Curiosity comes Grape Responsibility
When delving into our favorite subject about planting (the long list of) new-to-California grape varieties, the biggest question is where to plant them. Obviously there is much we can learn simply by looking at where they are successful in their home soils, but for so many of these vines there is no actual playbook that says how well they will thrive here. There is an insane amount of factors to consider in viticulture as each individual variety has its own sensitivities and growing requirements, but generally speaking, this is California and we can grow just about anything here. Part of this new frontier is about trial and error – just because the terroir or climate doesn’t precisely match where a grape may originate from doesn’t mean that it can’t be successful here and possibly worthy of creating a great California-made wine.
One very important player in the Seven Percent movement is Matthew Rorick. Not only does he make truly fabulous wines under his Forlorn Hope label, but six years ago he began an epic regrafting project at his estate vineyard in Calaveras County in the Sierra Foothills. At this point Matt is working with approximately 50 different grape varieties on this 75 acre property and as his curiosity expands in working with different grapes, the opportunity for others to purchase fruit and try their hands at making wine from them does as well. Needless to say, the project is still young, but the potential that this vineyard has for influencing and nudging more growers toward varietal diversity is massive.