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Aug 2018

Satellite Wine Club, August 2018

Lo-Fi - 2016 Cabernet Franc, Coquelicot Vineyard, Santa Ynez, CA 

La Onda - 2017 Red Blend ‘el Colo’, Sierra Foothills, CA


Viva La Fiesta. Viva warm weather! Viva la playa! Viva the summer! August is amazing in Santa Barbara. It’s hot, the beach is magnificent, it’s so damn hot, & it’s high season for chilly reds!! 

That’s right folks, this month we celebrate with cold red wines to make you shine. 

I love chilly reds. There’s something so wonderful about them. They’re carefree, they’re fleeting, fresh, even anti-establishment. Sure, you could choose to serve these light, low alcohol, fruity, herbal, and refreshing treats at normal cellar temperature… You could also brush your teeth with soap rather than toothpaste, or wear your pants inside out. You could do those things, but you’d be a monster. 

These wines are fun, they’re completely natural, crunchy, juicy, herbal and fresh. They’re the gift of early harvested grapes, fermented whole cluster, in neutral vessels. They’re as perfect in the sun as they are under a meteor shower on a hot Santa Barbara night. They’re your best defense against 90º midnight sundowner winds and boredom too! 

So what’s the unifying theme here? Production and Results is what! These wines are born from whole cluster fermentation of early harvested, organic fruit, started by foot stomping in low, open top containers and with the pre-existing wild yeasts. No additions, no subtractions, no agenda - just fresh wonderful wine.

This month we’ve got two wines from two brilliant, burgeoning California wineries. They’re wines that eschew common winemaking style and classic conventions. They’re unusual as they are elegant. Entirely themselves, just like the people who make them. This month we toast to the power of natural wines with frigidly fun fellows by Lo-Fi and la Onda. 

Viva la resistance!


Lo-Fi - 2016 Cabernet Franc, Coquelicot Vineyard, Santa Ynez, CA 

Crunchy. This wine is so crunchy! 

Lo-fi is a perennial favorite in Santa Barbara. Owners Craig and Mike are the most genial, jolly guys in the business. For me they’re the foremost ‘soif’ winemakers in California, making gluggable wines as naturally as possible, at approachable prices, and with incredible integrity. They’re everything I love about the French natural wine world, but in our own backyard. Winemaker Mike Roth is the go-to guru for anyone attempting to make Californian natural wines and his number is on the speed dial of so many winemakers at harvest time. 

Craig and Mike approach wine in a refreshing way. They don’t want to add or remove anything from a wine, they don’t use new wood, they don’t mess with their fermentations, don’t fine or filter, and pretty much everything ferments whole cluster, spontaneously with natural yeasts. They use all types of neutral fermenters and ageing vessels, whatever is hanging around (steel, fiberglass, concrete, neutral oak). They listen to vinyl records, slurp fun wine, and generally chill. They’re simply brilliant.

You must visit them at their brand new tasting room in Los Alamos. Bring your own vinyl and get to know everything they make. It is impossible to have a bad time there.

Now, let us taste this wine!

Like I said, this wine is crunchy. “But Drew, what the hell do you mean by crunchy?”. I mean close your eyes and imagine you’re climbing in a big Bing Cherry Tree, it’s late summer and the cherries are just-ripe. The tree is surrounded by wild california chaparral and there’s a row of Eucalyptus 60ft away. Now imagine you’re eating those crunchy red cherries right off the tree, no hands, breathing in all that wild herbal wonder. Now taste the Lo-Fi Coquelicot Cabernet Franc 2016. BOOM. It’s crunchy. 

Where the la Onda is subtle, soft, racy but restrained, this Lo-Fi zings. The fruit is front and center, super bing cherry and frutti di boschi with an ever building herbal bitterness that excites and wake up the palate. It’s an amazing food wine due to both the bright refreshing acidity and rare yet delightful bitter-herbal note. If you listen closely this wine is begging you for tri-tip sandwiches smothered in horseradish. In every sip of this is the immediate need for another sip. 

The Technicals:

  • 100% 2016 Cabernet Franc from the CCOF organic certified Coquelicot Vineyard, just south of the historic Santa Ines Mission
  • Ballard gravelly fine sandy loam
  • 100% spontaneous whole cluster fermentation, started by foot stomping and pressed after 14 days
  • Pumped over once per day and gassed with CO2 to maintain semi-carbonic fermentation
  • Aged 9 months in 100% neutral french oak barrels (4+ vintages)
  • 365 cases produced
  • Minimum effective SO2 added, 35ppm total, unfiltered and unfined
  • Sidenote: all of the Lo-Fi labels are based on classic record label stickers

Serve it out of the fridge, with friends and bring an extra bottle! 

$34 @ Satellite SB


La Onda - 2017 Red Blend ‘el Colo’, Sierra Foothills, CA

This wine was literally a surprise. It appeared in our Satellite fridge one hot day in May when winemaker Dani Rozman was driving down to LA for a wine dinner. I had only heard tell of Dani through mutual friends. I knew he was a farmer growing organic vineyards in the Sierra Foothills east of Sacramento and I knew he had beautiful, simple labels that I enjoyed looking at on instagram. On that fateful, unbearably hot May day I learned that I loved his wine. 

Dani is an enigma. He got hooked on winegrowing after spending time in Mendoza, Argentina and Itata in the Bio Bio Valley of Chile. He retreated to South America after college, exploring his passions and working with small natural winemakers and crazy old 100-150 year vines. Since his first vintage in 2010 he has found a home farming and making wine with Clos Saron in the North Yuba AVA of the Sierra Foothills. For a time he actually lived in a tent in the Renaissance Vineyard, a bear also lives in a nearby gully. I should note that I cannot confirm or deny that Dani has moved out of that tent. 

Dani is the real deal. Entirely immersed in his craft, he strives to create the cleanest possible wines, naturally, with as little intervention as possible. His wines reflect place so clearly, like a snapshot of the fruit, the soil, and the Sierra Nevada mountain herbs. They’re fresh, clear, balanced, and refreshing.

While Dani is a grape farmer, his ‘el Colo’ red is his first foray into using purchased fruit here in the US. The organic grenache, mourvedre, and syrah that comprise this hazy, reddish hued wine all come from the nearby David Girard vineyard. ‘El Colo’ is Argentinian slang for ‘Colorado’- kind of a an argentinian way of calling a redhead a ginger. The farmer behind these grapes is a red head, the wine is super reddish, and Dani loves all things Argentinian. A perfect name!

Simplicity is the strategy for making el Colo. Whole clusters of Grenache and Mourvedre are foot stomped in a low open bin and left to start fermenting spontaneously. About midway through, Dani adds a few buckets of his own Syrah clusters from Renaissance Vineyard. After pressing, the wine aged in two puncheons and a barrel on its lees until being bottled - no fining, no filtering, bottled by hand by gravity. What you’re left with is a particularly lovely, slightly cloudy but lightly colored glass of heavenly nature. 

Some technical notes for your reading pleasure: 

  • 100% organically farmed, whole cluster fermented Grenache & Mourvedre from David Girard in El Dorado Hills AVA, a sprinkle of Organic Syrah from Renaissance vineyard which Dani farms in North Yuba AVA
  • Extremely granitic volcanic soils contribute to minerality and acidity
  • Foot stomped and fermented spontaneously with ambient yeast
  • Pressed then aged two large 500l Puncheons and one standard neutral barrel, no new oak
  • Minimum effective SO2 added before bottling, 12.8% ABV
  • 135 cases produced
  • Side note: The awesome label is a photo Dani’s mum took at a Flamenco party in Spain in the 60’s! 

The wine is straight-up blackberry/cranberry juice with a wonderful, soft yeasty backdrop. With relatively racy acidity, a soft, barely tannic mouthfeel, and an endless wild-herb finish make this wine pure summer bliss. 

Here’s a little note from Dani about his project:

“La Onda was started in 2013 up in the foothills.  I'm farming around 7 acres (Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon) of vineyard up in North Yuba as a full-time job and also making and selling the wine.  The farming style doesn't really have a name but is pretty close to what is called Do Nothing farming inspired by Fukuoka.  Sometimes I call it more than organic.  It's actually the opposite of how it sounds, basically doing everything by hand, no chemicals and promoting diversity in terms of plants, insects, wildlife.  All the red wines are foot-stomped (I don't own a de-stemmer) and ferment spontaneously with native yeast.  The white wines are made using a manual basket press or Austrian pneumatic press, depending on the wine.  The only addition ever made to the wine is a tiny so2 addition the day before bottling.  That's it.”

Get on the la Onda vibe: Pop it cold and enjoy as it warms up and shows you all of its natural splendor!

$36 @ Satellite SB


When the Sundowners blow

Dry gusts of fire

The chilliest reds

They’re the wines I admire

So open your fridge

And chill down that juice

Natty reds in you cup

It’s summer, let loose!

This is August at Satellite. 


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