LIOCO is the result of a years-long conversation between Matt Licklider (a seasoned wine import specialist) and Kevin O’Connor (former wine director at Spago-Beverly Hills) about whether California could produce a true “wine of origin.” Inspired by traditional European winegrowing practices, they sought out vineyard sites with tougher soil, older vines, and some stress-producing aspect (altitude, extreme temperature, poor soil, etc). Under winemaker Drew Huffine, the grapes are shepherded from bud to bottle in the least intrusive way possible producing some of the most focused, balanced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir coming from such storied vineyards as Hirsch, Demuth, and Hanzell.
From a historic Mendocino vineyard pitched on the lofty slopes of Cloverdale’s Pine Mountain. Jim McCutchen boast 70-year old, head-pruned, dry-farmed vines planted on south-facing exposures at 2200-2400 feet. The soil is a mix of hard shale & clay. This rapidly vanishing California grape variety—made in this ‘old-timey’ way—harkens back to the Golden State’s earliest winemaking efforts.
Most of the nearly-extinct Carignan in California is found on the valley floor near Ukiah. Back in 2012, we followed a lead to a remote vineyard up on Pine Mountain—pitched on a rocky slope at 2,400 feet. Our first glimpse at this site told us all we needed to know. Before us, was a stand of mid-century, dry-farmed Carignan vines being attended to by the reclusive grower who hand-planted them nearly 70-years ago. The tough soil and steep slopes would challenge even a well-equipped vineyard crew and yet here was this 83-year old grower from another era going at it alone. Incredible.
22.8 tons of this old-vine Carignan were hand-harvested on Sept 14, 24, and 25. An intense sorting was done to select for only the best clusters. The triaged fruit was ‘submerged cap’ fermented (100% whole cluster) in T-bins & was pumped-over only when necessary during an 18-day fermentation. It spent 9-mos in neutral oak & 1-month in tank prior to bottling.
Lioco Sonoma Sativa Carignan has aromas of black cherry and cacao with flavors of salted plum and black raspberry on the palate. Pairs well with steak fries and Korean BBQ.