A Visit w/ George Unti...(short/boring)

Some 4-5 yrs ago, DarrellCorti mentioned to me that they had some of the LaCrima grape planted up at UntiVnyds in Healdsburg. This is a variety grown in LeMarche, where it is known as LaCrima la Morro d’Alba. The 10-15 examples I’ve tried had been wonderful…not a bit too unlike Refosco or Schioppettino. It’s a grape they should be planting all up & down the Coast of Calif.

So…I’ve been buying the Unti wines for several yrs now, in hopes of being able to brag “I’ve followed LaCrima in Calif from the very start”. They only have a tiny plot at Unti of LaCrima and have only been able to make a single barrel of LaCrima in the '12-'13-'14 vintages. Finally, MickUnti decided to blend the 3 brls together and move it out the door. The wine is an excellent example of LaCrima and a steal at $22/btl (now sold out).

So…when I was recently out to Calif for NEB#6, I decided I’d try to stop at Unti, meet George, and talk LaCrima. I had heard that their LaCroma vines were not doing well and thought to be virus infected. That’s not quite the whole story. When they grafted over the block (of Zinfandel?) to LaCrima, they top grafted the buds unto the trunk. George (who does the vnyd work at Unti) thinks that it may be on the wrong rootstock. The vine does well for several yrs, then forms a big gall at the graft, and the vine dies. They are now taking the vine all the way down to the rootstock and grafting the LaCrima buds directly onto the rootstock. And I believe George mentioned that they were going to try other rootstocks as well. At any rate, there’s much to look forward to in the way of LaCrima at Unti in the future. I took a btl of Visciola w/ me to show George what a gorgeous dessert wine it makes in LeMarche. But he was already familiar w/ the wine, so I saved it to try the next day w/ SamBilbro & RyanGlaab at Idlewild.

I found out that George is very excited by the Verdecchio grape and has some in the ground that we can expect o see in a yr or two.
We talked a bit about Zinfandel. Turns out that George much prefers the Primitivo clone of Zin they have because the berries are smaller and the bunches ripen He sees no benefit to labeling their Zin as Primitivo…so Zinfandel it is for now.
I found out from George that they need all the Grenache they can grow at Unti for their Grenache wine. They were selling Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre to SteveEdmunds for his Rocks&Gravel. But this relationship as ended. So there will be no more R&G from Steve. But…not to worry…Steve has a few tricks up his sleeve for another Rhone-style blend.
Last Feb, I tasted the Unti Syrah Benchland and did not like it much:

  1. Unti Syrah Benchland DCV (14.8%; 525 cs) 2012> : Med.dark color; intense burnt/charred/toasty/oak light blackberry/
    Syrah/spicy light DCV/raspberry/bit Zin-like slight reductive/pungent/licorice strange nose; lightly tart very
    strong burnt/charred/toasty/smokey/oak slight blackberry/raspberry/Syrah/spicy big/rich/structured flavor w/ some
    hard/ripe tannins; very long very strong burnt/charred/toasty/oak some blackberry/raspberry/Syrah bit tart finish
    w/ some hard tannins; a big/rich/structured Syrah but seems out of balance and dominated by the burnt oak; may
    get better w/ some age on it. $40.00

I thought it was way to over-oaked at the time. George opened a btl of it for me to try again. This time, the oak was not at all so pervasive and the Syrah was much more to my liking. As good a DryCreekVlly Syrah as I can recall.

Anyway…it was great to have the opportunity to meet George and talk about LaCrima.

Can’t wait to hear what Steve has up his sleeve!

I imagine that the two of you had to have hit it off pretty well, considering your appreciation for Ital varieties, Tom!

Glad you had the opportunity to visit the Vineyard and the people who make things happen!

Well, Drew…both George & I are cranky curmudgeons…so we got along very well. [snort.gif]
They have a bunch of pretty interesting varieties planted…so it’ll be fun to see how they do.
Tried to convince him on Nebb…but to no avail.