24 May Please The Palate Wine of the Week: ACORN 2018 Medley® Alegría Vineyards, Russian River Valley
In early 2023, Betsy and Bill Nachbaur of ACORN Winery announced that they would no longer be making wine. They would continue as “business as usual” until they were sold out and that time has almost come. I have enjoyed numerous wines from ACORN over the past few years, including their Zinfandel and their Gruner Veltliner. But if there is one wine that best epitomizes ACORN Winery, it is their Medley® wine. So, while making dinner the other night, I decided to open a bottle of the ACORN 2018 Medley® Alegría Vineyards, Russian River Valley to pair with my meal and it is the Please The Palate wine of the week.
ABOUT ACORN WINES
I first met Betsy Nachbaur virtually at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, we have been on a weekly virtual chat for more than three years and when I head up to Sonoma, I always try to visit Betsy and Bill in person. On a recent trip to Sonoma, I also enjoyed a glass of the ACORN Medley® while with Betsy and Bill. It is bittersweet that they will no longer be producing wine but Bill was quick to tell me he is not retiring. They are continuing to farm their Alegría Vineyard and are selling the fruit to other producers. And this did not surprise me. After all, in a story I wrote for California Winery Advisor a few years ago, I asked Bill what he would be doing if he wasn’t making wine and his response was that he “would probably still be growing grapes, but maybe I would have more time for woodworking or painting. Maybe some volunteer lawyer work focusing on social justice and equality. We have a diverse vineyard of grapes growing together harmoniously and we sometimes call it the United Nations of Grapes. It would be nice to bring that to our community.”
I am happy to know that Bill will continue to farm the Alegría Vineyard as it is a special place. Purchased in 1990, the historic 32-acre property had eight-and-a-half acres planted to heritage grapes dating back to 1890. Today Alegría Vineyards has 26 acres planted with Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, and many lesser-known varieties, for more than 100!
The ACORN 2018 Medley® is the 19th vintage of this wine. The 2019 is the final vintage of this wine. Bill first created this “blend of field blends” in 2020 and it is also a quintessential representation of the Alegría Vineyard. It is a field blend of 20% Syrah, 20% Zinfandel, 18% Cinsaut, 8% Dolcetto, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Sangiovese, plus a dozen different Muscats, Viognier, Blue Portuguese, Liatiko, and various table grapes. In total, there are more than 60 grape varieties. The grapes are picked at the same time and fermented together with native yeasts. After fermentation, they supplemented the base blend with three barrels of their Heritage Vines Zinfandel field blend. The wine aged for 19 months in barrel and an additional 20 months in bottle before release.
The wine has a lovely nose of red and black fruits and brown baking spices, such as cloves. On the palate, the wine has bright fruit notes of cherry, raspberry, and plum. The tannins are subtle and the acidity adds a lift to the palate.
I paired the wine with a medley of roasted vegetables (eggplant, yellow bell pepper, broccoli, tomato) and orzo with feta cheese. This one-of-a-kind blend of grape varieties has a lovely balance of acid and tannins that made it enjoyable with my dish and I can see this wine pairing with a variety of dishes.
WHERE TO PURCHASE
While the 2018 is no longer available, the ACORN 2019 Medley® Alegría Vineyards is and retails for $50. It is available on the ACORN Winery website until they sell out.
MEET THE WINEMAKER
Listen to the interview I did with Bill Nachbaur on the Wine Soundtrack USA podcast.