2023 Frenchtown Farms, Sierra Nevada Red "Quail Run" Magnum 1.5L
2023 Frenchtown Farms, Sierra Nevada Red "Quail Run" Magnum 1.5L

2023 Frenchtown Farms, Sierra Nevada Red "Quail Run" Magnum 1.5L

California, United States 2023 (1500mL)
Regular price$65.00

2023 Frenchtown Farms, Sierra Nevada Red "Quail Run" Magnum 1.5L

The ability to surprise, delight, and sometimes confound is one of the most exciting aspects of wine. Even jaded old pros like us can still experience awe and amazement, which is exactly what happened when a bottle of “Quail Run” from Frenchtown Farms circulated around the tasting table recently. Indeed, the whole team was dumbfounded. It was brimming with energy and exceptionally light on its feet, yet without sacrificing depth and complexity. Was it a natural wine from some obscure appellation in Southern France? Perhaps, but the fruit was super pure—clean as a whistle. In truth, what this small operation in the northern Sierra Nevada Foothills has accomplished is breathtaking: An expressive, elegant, eminently drinkable wine that really has no comparison. One taste and you will be hooked on the daring audacity of Frenchtown…but don’t delay, they only made a few cases and we have the last precious bottles for you today!

Frenchtown Farms is essentially a two person operation, Aaron and Cara Mockrish, who moved to North Yuba County after getting hitched with the romantic intention of establishing a small farm. However, a bottle of wine put them on a slightly different trajectory. That bottle was from Clos Saron, and when they realized that the winemaker/proprietor Gideon Beinstock was basically a neighbor they immediately sought him out and began learning, by experience, how to farm vines and make wine. In 2015 they were able to lease a few small parcels of vines and their new wine project was officially born. “Frenchtown” may sound like a cleverly concocted ode to the type of natural, terroir driven winemaking that they adhere to, but in fact it is the actual name of the small town where they live, almost due east of Sacramento in the gold country hills near Placerville. 

The Mockrishes have a small “home” vineyard in Frenchtown, but today most of their farming takes place about 75 miles north in Yuba County, where the classic decomposed granite of the Sierra Foothills gives way to volcanic rock and ash that is sprinkled with mica schist and quartz. Here is where you find the famous (or infamous) commune and erstwhile cult of Renaissance Vineyards, where their mentor Gideon first learned the secrets of the vine and cellar. For the past few years Aaron and Cara have had unfettered access to farm these vines and make their own wine—coming full circle from their very first days with Gideon. More recently they have also been given a long term lease on about 12 acres of the sprawling Naggiar Vineyard outside of Grass Valley, in the El Dorado AVA, which is where today’s eponymous “Quail Run” is sourced. 

The Naggiar family has over 60 acres of vines that were planted in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s by Mike Naggiar. Today, the estate is focused primarily on traditional, mainstream varieties that play well in their busy tasting room, but that leaves some exciting and obscure grapes for Cara and Aaron to play with, which fits perfectly into their philosophy. “Quail Run” is a 50/50 blend of Cinsault and Counouise, two blending grapes that are perhaps best known as allowable varieties in the most famous Rhône appellation: Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Both lack the weight, tannin, and alcohol potential of Syrah or Grenache, but they do provide lift, finesse, and some deliciously exotic savor that is truly rare in the wines of Yuba County. 

Under the meticulous, and organic-leaning, farming of Cara and Aaron, the Cinsault and Counoise reached peak ripeness while still maintaining a refreshingly low alcohol percentage. That’s the real magic trick of “Quail Run,” it is exuberant, energetic, and very nimble yet still complex and full of distinct characteristics. I would serve it on the cool side, around 55 degrees, in an all-purpose stem and then sit back and enjoy the ride. A burst of ripe raspberries, crushed strawberries, red plums, grapefruit skin, mint, white pepper, violets, sagebrush, and wet rock minerality opens almost immediately, and is followed by a joyous, medium-light texture that culminates in a surprisingly long, savory finish. It’s an ideal pairing for grilled salmon or trout, but can go with anything you would care to serve at a backyard barbecue or poolside party. But that first bottle will disappear very quickly, so stock up before this rare bird flies away!

2023 Frenchtown Farms, Sierra Nevada Red "Quail Run" Magnum 1.5L

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