A balance of earth and rustic citrus, from a California estate committed to natural winemaking.
Producer: Donkey & Goat
Region: Berkeley, California
Grapes: Chardonnay, Picpoul, Marsanne, and Vermentino
Medium Body, Complex
Flavors: Orchard fruit, fresh herbs, earth.
Pairings: Root vegetables, mushrooms, hearty cheeses.
Gadabout is a blend of white varieties from all over the Golden State, showcasing California’s lesser-known grapes in an effort to provide delicious natural wines at an everyday price. The result, according to Mann, is “rich, ripe, and definitely earthy, with a lot of texture and complexity. It really keeps going.” The nose opens with rustic wild earth and wet soil aromas before giving way to orchard fruits like apples, pears, and fresh hay. The palate is bold but elegant, with a persistent forest floor note that continues on the finish. Snappy acidity and structure make this a versatile food wine, but Mann suggests late-summer pairings with root vegetables, mushrooms, and hearty cheeses.
Winemakers Jared & Tracey Brandt go their own way from the get-go, sourcing a large portion of their fruit from growers all over California, rather than holding all of their own vineyards, “like a lot of people who can’t afford to buy vast tracts of land on the West Coast,” Mann said. The couple, who left their jobs in tech to learn winemaking from Rhône Valley master Eric Texier, have been committed champions of the practice of natural winemaking in California from the start, often acting as pioneers in a region dominated by industrial production. “Their wines are very, very natural,” Mann said. “There’s a little bit of an organic smell to [their wines]. They’re experimental.” The Brandts buck the status-quo in the location of their winery, too—the Donkey & Goat “estate” calls a warehouse in Berkeley home, right next door to Broc Cellars, another one of our favorite maverick natural winemaking producers.