Dirty & Rowdy 'Unfamiliar' Mouvedre

August 05, 2018

Dirty & Rowdy 'Unfamiliar' Mouvedre

A rare and happy accident from a leader in California’s natural wine movement.

Producer:
Dirty & Rowdy Family Winery
Region: Various regions in California
Grapes: 100% Mourvèdre
Price: $24
In Brief
Body: Lighter
Character: Vibrant
Flavors: Blackberry, Dried Leaves, Earth
Pairings: Grilled Chicken or Vegetables

The Wine
Brilliant fuschia in the glass, the nose is redolent of blackberry bramble, dried leaves, and spice. Those rustic wild berry notes continue on the palate, rounding out the tart tannins and vibrant acidity. Light-bodied, with a finish that’s floral and distinctly earthy, like the forest floor after summer rain. Pair with anything grilled, from chicken to eggplant. Howard suggests popping it in the fridge on a warm summer night.

The Story

Winemaker Hardy Wallace has developed something of a cult following as a charismatic leader of the California natural wine movement. A relative newcomer to the domestic winemaking scene, Wallace made his living in tech and wine blogging until 2010, when he ditched his laptop and decided to devote his life to the cellar. Since that time, Wallace has become well-known for his outspoken support of natural wines in California, as well as for his mastery of the Mourvèdre grape, a tricky red variety native to Spain (where it’s called Monastrell) that’s also widely planted throughout Southern France. Though it’s usually robust and medium-full-bodied (making a great Cab Sauv alternative), this bottle is a little different—it’s a one-off version of one of Wallace’s flagship wines, called “Familiar.” The 2017 vintage was a difficult one for Dirty & Rowdy—this wine went through a few more steps of production to keep things on track, and it resulted in a lighter expression than previous vintages. Rather than ditch it altogether, Wallace decided to bottle and name it “Unfamiliar.” He calls this an “emotional” wine, and it’s one that represents the struggles winemakers encounter every year when faced with Mother Nature’s mercurial tendencies.


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