TN: 2014 The Princess and the Peasant Carignan City of 10,000 Buddhas

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Drew Goin
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TN: 2014 The Princess and the Peasant Carignan City of 10,000 Buddhas

#1 Post by Drew Goin » May 27th, 2016, 7:15 pm

  • 2014 The Princess and the Peasant Carignan City of 10,000 Buddhas - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino (5/24/2016)
    The Princess and The Peasant 2014 Mendocino "City of 10,000 Buddhas" Carignan. I poured out a couple of ounces (as the fill level is very high) recorked the bottle, turned it upside-down and back again, and left it to rest for 5 hours.

    Drank one glass with dinner, and placed the bottle in the fridge for later today.

    Day #1: Gorgeous darker color (for Carignan), scents of black, wet earth, blackberries, but still somewhat shy. The glass, with bean and jalapeño chimichangas, is pretty darn good - yet, the wine obviously is holding back.

    The mouth feel is unexpectedly substantial (13.5% ABV). Initial flavors of strawberry, very subtle dried baking spices, and fresh blackberries - very dynamic, very fresh. Then, a sudden jolt into another world.

    The wine abruptly changes gears: full, rich, dense. Dark berry flavors become more concentrated; the earthy/dusty notes dominate the mid-palate. I look at the reference sheet - 3.8 pH. The finish is a smooth continuation of the moderately full-bodied blackberry preserves and earthiness. There is no acidity dancing on the tongue, encouraging the drinker to take another sip.

    This Carignan is not a typical, raspy, brambly, acidic table wine. It is aspiring to be something greater, but there is a discordant bridge between the front-end and the mid-palate/finish: they are not in sync at this point.

    Day #2: The blackberry notes are completely missing; the "City of 10,000 Buddhas" Carignan now reveals only aromas and flavors of strawberry coulis with a nice dusty element and the baking spices of Day #1.

    Day #3: The Carignan provides a return in strength of the blackberry and earthy flavors with a hint of the strawberry on the dusty finish. The richness of the mouthfeel and the harmony of the flavors really tick off the right boxes! I do miss the characteristic acidity of the variety but, meeting the wine on its own terms, I have to say that it is a very tasty, unique product.

    I believe that if it had come from any other place in California, the delicate balance would have tilted too much towards the heat of alcohol or that the spice and earth would not have framed the fruit with such subtlety. I am happy to have a few more bottles, but sad to hear that no more will be forthcoming. This singular vineyard's Swan Song might be more "Walking on Sunshine" than "Moonlight Sonata", but it is pleasurable all the same.

    • The City of 10,000 Buddhas Monastery owns the vineyard land. The vineyard, predominantly Carignan grapes with a suspected interplanting of Valdiguie, Zinfandel, etc, rests along the Talmage Bench, about 400 feet above Ukiah. The site, planted in 1944, was neglected for years, with canopies approaching 12 feet in height! The Princess and The Peasant Winery bought and picked the grapes, ironically funding the demolition of the vineyard for the construction of a new building on the monastery's grounds.
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Glenn L e v i n e
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#2 Post by Glenn L e v i n e » May 27th, 2016, 7:22 pm

Sounds very intriguing, and thanks for note but I hate reading the vineyard was ripped out for development. I don't understand that thinking?
"Never lose sight of the fact that it is just fermented grape juice" - a winemaker and negotiant in Napa Valley, CA

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#3 Post by Drew Goin » May 27th, 2016, 7:45 pm

It's a Buddhist monastery. The only previous use of the vineyard was for juice consumed on the campus (since the monastery's founding in 1963).

The vineyard never saw any harmful chemicals over the years. I think it could have served as a cash flow source, but instead the congregation just sold one vintage worth of grapes and ripped it up.

The good news is that The Princess and The Peasant will release a "Poor Ranch" Mendocino Carignan later this year.

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#4 Post by Glenn L e v i n e » May 27th, 2016, 7:48 pm

I'm not sure there is good news after a story like that.
"Never lose sight of the fact that it is just fermented grape juice" - a winemaker and negotiant in Napa Valley, CA

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#5 Post by Rich Brown » May 27th, 2016, 8:41 pm

Awesome notes Drew, Thanks for sharing! Always happy to hear about you running into a Carignan that you really enjoyed!

Although just as Glenn mentioned.....such a travesty when you hear about old vines like this being ripped out.

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#6 Post by Dan R » June 1st, 2016, 1:12 pm

Drew Goin wrote:I have to say that it is a very tasty, unique product.
Drew, thanks so much for the kind words, honesty, and taking the time to post your impressions. It's greatly appreciated!
Glenn L e v i n e wrote:Sounds very intriguing, and thanks for note but I hate reading the vineyard was ripped out for development. I don't understand that thinking?
Rich Brown wrote:such a travesty when you hear about old vines like this being ripped out.
Hi Glenn and Rich, believe me, as an old vine enthusiast and producer, I completely agree with you. This, however, was a unique case. As Drew mentioned, this vineyard was included in a large land purchase when the community expanded, and ultimately this was a 7 acre vineyard located on the 500+ acre grounds of one of the largest Buddhist sanctuaries in the Western Hemisphere. These are NOT grape farmers, they don't drink, and they are just not interested in developing another "cash flow source". The vineyard had never had any viticultural input - never pruned, never tilled, never sprayed, never irrigated, etc. We were approached by a former student at their university about buying the fruit, and the monks didn't even know where to start. How much should they charge us (we agreed on the average Mendo Co price for Carignan)? How is the whole harvesting all the grapes at once thing going to work? So, we had to bring in our own harvesting equipment and crew from an hour away over the mountains, the logistics of which were very difficult. And when our guys were faced with harvesting this:
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They didn't even know where to begin. It took the better part of 2 days to harvest 3 tons - no joke - most of it required step ladders to get off the tree...I mean vine. Keep in mind that our crew works on typical VSP vines. It takes a special, particular skillset to harvest old vines (an iphone video of our 2015 Poor Ranch carignan harvest, performed by their experienced crew)...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SXxn_riv8c

...and that's when they're, you know, waist high and not above your head! Anyway, fast forward to 2015 and when we called inquiring about purchasing grapes again, the monks were shocked to hear that we were interested, considering the hoops we had to jump through to pull off the harvest, and that there was any interest in the fruit for commercial wine production in the first place. They tore out the vines and are constructing another university building, and from a cultural perspective, a much better use of their land and resources than an old, small vineyard. So, at the end of the day, this wine is the first and only time that these grapes will have been made into wine. C'est la vie!
D Rivin
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#7 Post by Chuck Anderson » June 1st, 2016, 6:59 pm

Fascinating story, and with the name of that wine already contributing to "set and setting" ...
Drew Goin wrote:Then, a sudden jolt into another world. The wine abruptly changes gears
... the first wine tasting note which has ever momentarily convinced me I was reading a DMT trip report!

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#8 Post by Dan R » June 1st, 2016, 7:25 pm

Chuck Anderson wrote:... the first wine tasting note which has ever momentarily convinced me I was reading a DMT trip report!
It's got a super intense, mind altering 10 minute finish and then...it's like you never even put it in your mouth in the first place
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#9 Post by Peter Petersen » June 1st, 2016, 8:26 pm

Drew, This sounds like a exciting wine. Did you find it locally?

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#10 Post by Drew Goin » June 1st, 2016, 8:29 pm

Ask Dan about it. His wife and he made it!

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#11 Post by Drew Goin » June 10th, 2016, 5:32 am

Peter Petersen wrote:Drew, This sounds like a exciting wine. Did you find it locally?
I actually shot Dan a few emails to get some information about the wines, then was patched through to the Signal Ridge people to finalize the order (and toss in a Signal Ridge Zinfandel).

The Princess and The Peasant Winery website is:
http://princessandthepeasant.com

Contact Page:
http://princessandthepeasant.com/#team

All The Princess and The Peasant wines are for sale through the Signal Ridge Winery's Tasting Room:

Phone
(707) 895-3588

Email
info@signalridge.com

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#12 Post by Dan R » June 10th, 2016, 10:33 am

Thanks a ton for posting the contact info, Drew!
Peter Petersen wrote:Drew, This sounds like a exciting wine. Did you find it locally?
You can always drop me an IM if you're curious, Peter...Cheers!
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#13 Post by Drew Goin » January 4th, 2017, 9:54 pm

Congratulations to Stephanie and Dan at The Princess and The Peasant for receiving some attention for their unique Mendocino wines!!!

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/01/04/b ... sant-wine/

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#14 Post by Scott Watkins » January 4th, 2017, 10:21 pm

Great story! anyone try the current vintage Carignan? Might just pickup a few.
Pruning the vine is a primordial gesture through which man passes from barbarity to culture.

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#15 Post by Drew Goin » January 5th, 2017, 11:54 am

I believe that we might see the 2015 The Princess and the Peasant "Poor Ranch" Carignan soon...

They also released a "Signal Ridge" Pinot Noir. Stephanie Riven is the winemaker at that vineyard's eponymous winery. Dan Riven also works on some Pinot Noir, Sparkling wines, and whites at Lichen.

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#16 Post by M. Dildine » January 6th, 2017, 7:15 pm

Great note Drew! The vineyard is named "city of 10,000 Buddhas "?
Cheers,

Mike

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#17 Post by Drew Goin » January 7th, 2017, 1:12 am

M. Dildine wrote:Great note Drew! The vineyard is named "city of 10,000 Buddhas "?
The wine's vineyard designation is "City of 10,000 Buddhas" as that is who owned the property. If I recall correctly, the members of the Temple made fruit juice from the grapes over the years, yet any historic use of the vineyard in winemaking escapes me. Alas, I believe that the vines might already be gone.
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10,000 Buddhas Map
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https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of ... nd_Buddhas
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Aerial View of the City of 10,000 Buddhas Temple Grounds
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Now, The Princess and the Peasant have a new source for their Mendocino Carignan: the Poor Ranch.

http://princessandthepeasant.com/#wines

"Sourced from 74 year old vines, the Princess and the Peasant Poor Ranch Carignan is unique expression of a variety perfectly adapted to its terroir. Juicy, bright, and vibrant; with blackberry and pomegranate fruit and lively, polished tannins. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 13.40%."

The Poor Ranch is featured on the MendoWine website:

http://www.mendowine.com/media/mendocin ... ?column=58
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Poor Ranch
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#18 Post by Jason T » January 7th, 2017, 2:28 am

Drew, your passion for wine (and knowledge of history associated with it) is infectious. Every time you post I look forward to learning something new.
J@son Tr@ughber

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#19 Post by Drew Goin » January 7th, 2017, 5:53 am

Thanks, Jason!

I am hooked on wine with a story. I know that too many wines are marketed with some flim-flam generic "human story", but I really appreciate it when I speak with a small operation with a compelling added dimension to what might otherwise be just another bottle of wine.

Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to get a great bottle with a great story (most of the time!).

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#20 Post by Dan R » January 7th, 2017, 7:16 pm

Drew, once again, I can't thank you enough for sharing our story, and to to all of you who took the time to read a bit about us. The Bay Area News Group article linked to above has been a pretty amazing development for our tiny operation.
M. Dildine wrote:Great note Drew! The vineyard is named "city of 10,000 Buddhas "?
Hi Mike! The vineyard is gone, unfortunately, I posted upthread the bittersweet story. This was the first and only wine produced from the old Carignan vines, since at least the early 60's when they bought the parcel. The grapes were being used for juice - there is still a section of their website referencing the site, with pictures of the harvest and juicing (who's up for old vine Carignan pastry???):

http://www.cttbusa.org/grapes/cttb.asp

The Poor Ranch, our source for Carignan starting in 2015, would be a great candidate for your Historic Vineyard Registry, Mike. That's a picture of it upthread a bit - it's located in the east hills of Hopland, above a narrowing of the valley floor below that represents the physical boundary between the McDowell and Sanel Valley appellations. The Poors have been raising wine grapes at this location since the late 1800's. The Carignan is a 1944 planting, own rooted, certified organic, dry farmed, head pruned, with no trellis system. The soil is gravel/sandy/loam of the Squawrock Witherell series - low water holding capacity and very well draining - in the 1100' Carignan block. In the summer it's hot, the dirt is brown, dry, and dusty.
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For me, walking through makes me reflect on how well suited this variety must be to this arid, warm, dusty site - it looks quite similar to Corbieres in terms of landscape. The grapes get ripe but hang on to crazy acidity - the wine is juicy and really bright - 3.5 pH / 7.3 g/L natural TA / 13.4%. I hope it's a reflection of both the regional treasures that these old Mendo vineyards are, and the pride of a long time family of farmers of their legacy. The key to the winemaker/grower relationship, of course, is being in sync
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For those of you interested, we'll definitely drop a Berserker Day offer...cheers everybody!
D Rivin
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#21 Post by Drew Goin » January 8th, 2017, 1:04 pm

Thanks for the update, Dan!!

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