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93 points- Master Sommelier, Catherine Fallis
The Bootleg Society - The Story behind the Label: One sure way to guarantee something gets done is to make it illegal. Such was the case during Prohibition, that ill-conceived period in our country’s history, where our government outlawed the commercial production, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. As is often the case, the unintended consequences led to widespread flaunting of the law as bootlegging, rum running, and speakeasies flourished. Alcohol poured in from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Lodi even went through a period of vineyard expansion as hundreds of rail cars left for east coast markets loaded with crates of grapes packed with instructions on “how not to make wine.” Speakeasies replaced saloons, and provided well-to-do Americans with clandestine drinking establishments. These bars were hidden from public site, often behind secret doors and passages, and many required patrons to utter passwords to gain entrance. Our longtime customers are all probably well aware of our beginnings in the wine business as my father bootlegged our 1981 Vintage Port out of a less-than-reputable winery that refused to pay us for our grapes. That began our adventure in the wine business, but the similarities to Prohibition run far deeper than our bootlegging past. For many years, my father operated what could best be described as a modern day Speakeasy. There were no signs directing patrons to our entrance, guests often circled the building looking for the front door, and if they happened to make it that far, they were often greeted with a brusk, “Did you call for an appointment?” That phrase was more than just a question – it was a test, and if you passed, you gained admittance to the St.Amant Speakeasy. You were told the call sign - that if the blue pickup was parked out front, St. Amant was open.
Vinification follows simple techniques designed for maximum expression of each of the vineyard sites. First, we only harvest fully mature and ripe fruit. We carefully sort the grapes at the crusher/destemmer removing leaves and imperfect clusters. We ferment in open-top vessels with a high juice to skin ratio. We carefully handle the must with gentle pumpovers, delestage, and hand punchdowns. We press and rack to small oak barrels for a natural malolactic fermentation. We utilize only high quality coopers and variety of French and American oaks for added complexity. We bottle with minimal rackings, fining, and filtration.
Winemaker: Stuart Spencer: Stuart took over the winemaking duties when his father passed away in 2006, but having grown up with a family farm and winery, he has a long history with grapes and wine. When his parents partnered with others to open a fine wine shop in 1970’s, Stuart was drug along to countless tastings and events where he had the opportunity to taste, learn, and develop a passion for wine. Growing up in the wine business gave Stuart the opportunity to learn the craft from the ground up. Spending countless hours on tractors, leaf-pulling, sampling, harvesting, crushing, racking, topping, and endless hours of cleaning gave him insight into how fine wine is made. Stuart graduated from UCSB where he was member of their swim team. In 1999, Stuart went to work for the Lodi Winegrape Commission where he served as the Program Manager and helped develop many of the innovative programs that have shined the light on Lodi wines. Stuart is currently President of TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society) a trade association.
93 Points,Master Sommelier, Catherine Fallis, aka Grape Goddess:
Rich and ripe, this lavishly fruity red blend is 65% Old Vine Zin from Marian’s vineyard (which is 111 years old), with the balance a secret blend of Barbera, the port grape Souzao, Tempranillo, and others. Dark cherry, mulberry, fig newton, root beer, vanilla, chocolate mint and cinnamon notes on the nose are warm and inviting. The wine is full-bodied, round, and plush but balanced with a nice soft ripe berry juiciness. Some fine-grained oak tannins pop up towards the bright red-fruited finish.