Have you ever experienced the non-romantic equivalent of "love at first sight"? Well, that's what I felt when I met Ian Brand. He's got an amazing personality-- fascinating, fun, caring, and a serious edge when he talks about his wines. His wines are a clear reflection of exactly who he is.
The vineyard Little Wings fruit is harvested from is a beautiful, small, elevated parcel on loamy limestone that sees a lot of sunshine. We don’t mess with the wines very much, and like to think we produce something very authentic. For this reason, each vintage poses a new set of variables, resulting in a unique wine from vintage to vintage. We enjoy seeing the variation from one year to the next, and hope you enjoy this authentic expression of Syrah too!
2018 Little Wings Syrah, Rodnick Family Vineyard, Chalone AVA (Fall 2020)
Now we’re talking. 2018 is what Ian considers “an ideal and near-perfect growing season”. Temperatures were cool and steady throughout the year, and there was very little rain. We did not experience any heat spikes and succeeded in bringing in a gorgeous crop of fruit on August 31st. Sugars were low, berries were tiny, and flavors were fantastic. This will be fermented about 50% whole cluster, and should spend some time in used French Oak before being released in the Fall of 2020.
2017 Little Wings Syrah, Rodnick Family Vineyard, Chalone AVA (Fall 2019)
In 2017, the famed Antle Vineyard changed hands and was purchased by the Rodnick Family. The Rodnicks are known for their earth-focused farming practices, keeping irrigation to a minimum, and applying common biodynamic farming practices. It’s the same fruit, coming from the same land, being farmed by a new family.
2017 was a very warm vintage, marked by a heat spike as we approached harvest. Remember the fires in 2017? Luckily, our fruit came in before it could be affected by these fires, but the same conditions that caused the fires (dry, hot, windy, etc.) shine through in the wine. These conditions resulted in the ripest Little Wings vintage to date. Ian has done a wonderful job of bringing out the beautiful character of this wine, and I’m excited to see everyone’s response to it as I expect it will be one of the most crowd-pleasing vintages of Little Wings.
The wine is currently aging in used French Oak barrels, and the final product will be assembled in Spring of 2019, with a planned release that Fall. We expect production to be approximately 75 cases, with alcohol levels ticking up in the 14% range.
2016 Little Wings Syrah, Antle Vineyard, Chalone AVA (October 2018 Release)
The 2016 vintage was what Ian refers to as “typical for the past 5 years in Salinas” – meaning it’s been warmer than usual, and it hasn’t really rained much.
Ian was a bit creative with the 2016 vintage, deciding to harvest about half the crop a few weeks early and ferment it using carbonic maceration – a centuries-old technique designed to bring about low-alcohol, light, fruity, enjoyable wines. The remainder of the crop was harvested in mid-August, with the fruit more fully-ripened. Most of this fruit was fermented whole-cluster, and the two harvests aged independently for the better part of a year in used French oak barrels. The two lots were then blended and aged a further 6 months in those same barrels.
The wine was bottled on March 20th, 2018 after a little over 18 months in barrel. The harvest produced 74 cases, with a nice, low, balanced 12% abv.
The 2016 is a very approachable, classically-styled, fruit-driven wine that drinks more vibrantly than the 2015 and is very reminiscent of a femininely-styled wine from St. Joseph.
The 2016 vintage will be released in the Fall of 2018, and will ship in time for your Thanksgiving dinners!
2015 Little Wings Syrah, Antle Vineyard, Chalone AVA (sold out)
In August 2015, we harvested just over one ton of Syrah from the Chalone AVA's Antle Vineyard, a cool-climate limestone vineyard with some nice elevation, overlooking Monterey Bay. The vineyard is organically farmed and masterly managed by Bill Brosseau.
Half of the fruit went into fermentation whole cluster and the other half, whole berry. After a three-week maceration, the wine was pressed. It settled for a day and Ian moved it to a used French oak barrel (yes, just one-- and some went into a keg).
Total production is 57 cases, and alcohol came in at 13.3%. The wine was racked before being bottled on February 14th, 2017 (Happy Valentine's Day!), after 17 months in barrel.