20 Jan Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Piazza Family Wines 2019 Carbonic Graciano, Bella Vista Vineyard, Ballard Canyon, Santa Barbara County
Everything about this wine excited me – the producer, the grape, and the winemaking process! Then I paired the wine with pizza at dinner and I was elated. That is why the Piazza Family Wines 2019 Carbonic Graciano, Bella Vista Vineyard, Ballard Canyon, Santa Barbara County is the Please The Palate wine of the week.
Graciano is a black-skinned grape that can be found in northern Spain. It is often blended with Tempranillo in Rioja and is also found in Navarro. At one point, it was thought that Graciano was synonymous with Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) which is grown in Catalonia. But, this is where there was confusion because Graciano is actually known as Morrastel in France where small amounts are grown in the Languedoc. There was a mix-up in 2004 when Monastrell was brought to California. Many producers thought they had Monastrell or Mourvedre but a few years ago they learned that what they had was Graciano, or Morrastel.
There is Graciano planted in the Bella Vista Vineyard in Ballard Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara Wine Country. Bella Vista Vineyard is owned by Ron and Nancy Piazza. Ron and Nancy first founded Mt. Carmel Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills in 1989, more than a decade before the AVA was founded. Mt. Carmel Vineyard sells their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to a small group of Santa Barbara winemakers.
With a desire to find property to build a home, in 2017, Ron and Nancy purchased Bella Vista Vineyard in Ballard Canyon overlooking Stolpman Vineyard and Beckmen’s La Purisma Vineyard. Previously the Harrison Clark Vineyard, it was originally planted in 2001 and has been continuously organically farmed. They are growing Graciano, Grenache, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Syrah on the property and started Piazza Family Wines in 2018. Gretchen Voelcker is the winemaker and focuses organic fruit and ingredients and a minimalist winemaking philosophy.
For the 2019 vintage, Gretchen decided to play with the Graciano and try carbonic maceration. With carbonic maceration, a typical process found in Beaujolais with the Gamay grape, the whole berries are put in steel fermentation tanks instead of being crushed. The tanks are filled with carbon dioxide to create an anaerobic atmosphere. Without oxygen, fermentation started from the inside of the grapes. Carbonic maceration results in juicy fruit-forward wines.
The Piazza Family Wines 2019 Carbonic Graciano, Bella Vista Vineyard, Ballard Canyon underwent carbonic fermentation for 21 days. After a native fermentation, the wine spent six months on lees with 25% new French oak and is unfined and unfiltered. At only 11.8% alcohol, the wine has notes of violets, blackberry, wild berries, root beer, leather and a touch of gaminess. On the palate, the wine has cherry cola and red fruit notes with fresh acidity and a long finish.
A completely enjoyable wine on its own, it was a perfect pairing with pizza.
There were only 98 cases made of the Piazza Family Wines 2019 Carbonic Graciano, Bella Vista Vineyard, Ballard Canyon, which retails for $30 and is available directly from Piazza Family Wines.