Why would anyone be surprised at all by this wine? Fox Hill is an incredible vineyard site and has proven it's merit in numerous ways with numerous producers in both red and white format. But for die hard Sangiovese fans; those that love the leather, the book shelf, the dried cherry, the licorice spice and baked earth...all that density and levity and taut structure, new world versions rarely stack up and often disappoint.
FOX HILL VINEYARD
Lowell Stone had quite the vision for his wife Babara's place. As a young man, he fell head over heels for Italy, particularly it’s wine culture. Finally, in the late 80's, he took to replanting the entire property, converting it over from mostly Chardonnay and Riesling to many and much more obscure Italian varieties (with a few acres of two Portuguese varieties thrown in for good measure). Today, it's a library of what one could get their hands on in the way of Italianate grapevines at the time from nurseries, friends, and the odd 'suitcased' cuttings. Fox Hill rests between Hopland and Ukiah just up from the Russian River on benchland called the Talmage Bench. Uplifted former riverbed, Fox Hill is predominantly standstone based – very rocky and pebbly, with a large amount of quartz to trip over as one is weaving one's way in and out of the vine rows that eventually find their way into Mahlon, Chilion, Feints, and Rosé.
WHO IS RUTH?
I've said it a thousand different ways since the beginning of Ruth Lewandowski Wines, and I think its most comprehensible to explain “Ruth” as a concept more than a living, breathing individual. A concept born out of the affiliation of my own philosophies of farming and winemaking (which indeed spill over to inform so many of my life beliefs) and one small but very significant text in the Old Testament of the Bible, the book of Ruth. Without sounding 'preachy' and so as not to offend the sensitive, and in the interest of concisely summing things up, I don't believe there to be a deeper, more compelling depiction of the natural cycle of death and redemption (both in the physical realm we can see and the spiritual realm we often do not) than this one short book.
Death is, indeed, the engine of life
Nothing that is alive today could be so without something having died first. This is the redemptive nature of our universe, of our planet, of our soils, plants, and ultimately you and I. The cessation of things is necessary to begin anew, even more fully. From the wreckage of death and tragedy at the beginning of the book of Ruth, a young woman finds life, finds beauty and is able to truly live....not simply in spite of the death, but because the death occurred at all. The regeneration of the life of our soils occurs only through organic matter...all completely dead, broken down carbon-based items. A natural fermentation is the building up and dying off of multiple strains of yeast and bacteria, each paving the way for the next strain to take over (and each leaving their altogether unique signatures of flavor, aroma, and textural compounds).
Who is Ruth? Well, with this sort of explanation, I suppose I could say that there is a bit of Ruth in all of us.
When asked to express his viewpoint on organic winemaking, Evan responds: “A winegrower working incessantly in his/her vines, with a mind focused both on the sky above and the soil below, not just the fruit zone, will naturally come to deeply know their vines and their specific place and inevitably seek to eradicate those things that destroy in favor of choosing to support and encourage life. It must start with these connections in the vineyard. Wine made by these people, the ones earnestly and honestly seeking to know their farms, in the end will be organic wine to me.”
-Zev Rovine Selections