Saturday Tasting: Les Lunes / Populis

By April 13, 2018 Tasting No Comments

Saturday, April 14th, 1-4pm
$10 for five wines (waived with $100 purchase)

Here’s something you don’t hear everyday: “At Les Lunes Wine we lease our own vineyards, work our own vines and built our own cellar.” As natural wine grows in popularity, many folks in California have adopted less interventionist techniques in the cellar (awesome!), but have not committed to similarly rigorous approaches in the vineyard. For a good reason: land is expensive and farming is hard! Perhaps because of their training in France (with the likes of Barral and Valette no less!), Shaunt Oungoulian and Diego Roig are committed to doing things the old-fashioned way. They make California wines in a classic mold, with organic fruit, native yeast, and very little sulfur. They are balanced, aromatic and deftly structured.

And then they make the Populis wines, made out of fruit purchased from the Venturi vineyard in Mendocino. These are super juicy, natural chuggers; the kind of wine you always want to have in your fridge.

On Saturday, we will taste five new releases. I have to say, the wines are really freaking good this year.

Below, find the lineup along with notes from Shaunt and Diego.

Populis Sauvignon Blanc 2017 $23
Old vines planted in 1948 from the Venturi vineyard, likely the oldest SB vineyard left in CA. Direct press, 1/3 neutral oak, 2/3 tank, full malo. Bottled in january. Lean, mineral and bright and textured.

Populis Rosé 2017 $23
100% Carignane also from 1940’s Carignane from Venturi Vineyard. Direct press and fermented in tank. the 2017 had tons of malic acid so when it when through malo, it gave the wine a really great creamy breadth to it. But still light due to low-alcohol.

Populis Carignane Reversée 2016 $23
100% Carignane from Venturi Vineyard, also old vines. This is our chillable (chugable) red. We make this the same day as our rosé using our ‘reverse saignée method. We fill a tank with whole clusters and top it up with rose juice so that the clusters are submersed and we don’t need to do punchdowns or pumpovers, a very light extraction method. lets the wine stay super juicy, bright and electric. You seem to get to places with Carignane that you normally could’t with either rosé or whole cluster themselves.

Les Lunes Zinfandel 2015 $27
From Venturi Vineyard, some of his oldest vines on his steepest hill, this parcel spoke to us. Much more restrained and bright, we do this in the Barral method Diego picked up while staging there. 30 days of whole cluster fermentation followed by 18 months of barrel aging and now about a year in bottle. Bright fresh, restrained.

Les Lunes Cabernet/Merlot 2015 $38
We started farming this vineyard 3 years back, continuing its conversion to organics. Kinda like the old-School style of bordeaux blends from CA, but reimagined through the lens of natural wine. low alcohol, varietally correct. We age this for two years in barrel, bottled in July and are just now releasing it. Really trying to show the potential and character that aging can have on these types of wines. Heavy clay soils in Carneros give the wine breadth and punchy tannins, while the relatively cool climate helps to preserve the freshness and varietal characters.