If you feel perfectly comfortable ordering a sauvignon blanc on a summer afternoon over a chardonnay, or prefer zindfandel with pizza and cabernet with steak, you’ve got the basics down. But what if the wine list has names you’ve never heard of – Albarino, Vermentino, St. Laurent, Counoise?
Along with slightly more familiar varietals like Mourvedre, Barbera and Carignan, these and other even more esoteric grapes comprise only 7 percent of the vineyards in the North Coast. Which means that 93% are the old reliables, the ones you usually find in the tasting rooms hereabout.
Building on that comes "The Seven % Solution," a wine tasting event featuring 17 northern California wineries that work with over 20 little-known grape varietals that cling to their small percentage of vineyard. The winemakers find in these grapes the potential for making expressive, terroir-driven wines that show their varietal character.
Some of the varietals are heavily planted in their respective native lands, if largely unknown to many California wine consumers. Now these locally grown wines are being sought out by sommeliers and restaurateurs, who appreciate the efforts of grape growers and winemakers dedicated to viticultural diversity.
There are familiar and new names in the list of participating winemakers, which includes Healdsburg's Stark Wines, Two Shepherds from Patch blogger William Allen, Unti Vineyards, Arnot Roberts, Bedrock Wine Co., Broc Cellars, Dirty & Rowdy Family Winery, Forlorn Hope, Idlewild Wines, JolieLaide, Leo Steen, Massican, Matthiasson, RPM, Ryme Cellars, The Scholium Project and Wind Gap.
The Seven % Solution is next Saturday, May 11, from 3 to 7 p.m. at Bergamot Alley. It should be an educational as well as agreeable experience: Food will be provided by chef Ari Rosen of Scopa and Campo Fina, and many of the winemakers and “vignerons” will be on hand to laud their favorite esoteric. Tickets are $40, available on brownpapertickets.com.
If you’re in the trade, contact Bergamot Alley at 707.433.8720 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.