2020 Verdelho


Wine Notes


Placer County, Sierra Foothills

Verdelho hails from the island of Madeira, due west of Morocco, and was widely cultivated as early as the 1600’s! Its exact origin remains a mystery; it may have originated on Madeira itself. By 1872 Verdelho constituted two-thirds of the island’s vineyards. Originally, it was used to make Madeira’s famous sweet desert wines along with the Bual, Malvasia, and Sercial varieties. In time, Verdelho became the most widely-planted white variety within the DOC region. It went to the Azores, Australia, and Portugal and has been re-born in California as a zesty, layered and dry table wine.

Verdehlo is one of a handful of white wine varieties that do well in warm macro climates since it can develop multilayered fruit profiles and retain its acidity. Verdelho has small, open clusters with petite, oval-shaped berries that yield good concentration. We have discovered a new such terrior in the Sierra foothills.: Sierra de Montserrat Vineyard, near the small town of Rocklin. The vineyard is hilly, reminding the owners of the Montserrat Peaks just northwest of Barcelona. The red granite soils produce flavorful and complex wines. The block is less than 1 acre and is meticulously farmed by Sam Patterson and managed by the affable Alice Jack. The trellis is a VSP which allows dappled sunlight to the fruit in conjunction with judicious leaf-pulling.

The winter of 2020 yielded low rainfall, less than 50% of normal, about 16-20” in the North Coast wine country. Spring started “on-time” in mid-April, with good weather for flowering. The fruit set was normal but berry size was reduced due to lower rainfall, thus increasing quality. Summer weather was also normal and sufficient canopy shaded the crop. Harvest was somewhat early due to lower soil moisture and the threat of an early fire season.

Fermentation & Aging:
The grapes were harvested on August 20, 2020. The Brix was 24.8° with pH of 3.8 and total acid of 5.1g/L. The juice was fermented in stainless steel until about 1° Brix then transferred to neutral French oak barrels to finish fermentation and to receive sur lie contact for 5.5 months. The wine was bottled on Feb. 16, 2021.