Idlewild 2019 Fox Hill Vineyard Dolcetto, Mendocino, CA
Sam Bilbro followed his love of all things Italian when he made the leap to create Idlewild Wines, which focuses entirely on Italian varities grown in California. Sam grew up in a winemaking family, as his father stared Marietta Cellars, which his brother Scot now runs, and his brother jake owns Limerick Lane.
- Winemaker: Sam Bilbro
- Farming: Sustainable with Organic practices
- Variety: Dolcetto
- Terroir: Fox Hill Vineyard Soil is well-drained with high concentrations of gravel and sandstone and schist.
- Vinification: Whole cluster fermentation, foot-trodden. Spontaneous, native yeast fermentation, followed by basket press.
- Aging: Karge format Slovenien oak Botti for a year of elevage. Then, a year in bottle completed its aging.
Tasting Notes: The nose shows black cherry, almond, anise, fresh soil, allspice, and cinnamon stick. The mouth is medium-bodied with freshness and firm tannin on the finish. It is joyful and fully serious all at once.
Featured in our January 2022 Bottle Clubs:
Idlewild | Fox Hill Vineyard Dolcetto | Mendocino Co., CA | 2019
Idlewild is on a mission to make wines of exceptional balance and beauty from Piedmontese varieties. How can the flavor profiles of Piemonte, Italy be recreated in California?
First, you need great vineyards like Fox Hill, a sandstone-and-quartz-filled vineyard on the benchlands of the Russian River, where warmth of the valley can bring out a rich depth of fruit.
Secondly, you need the right grapes. Dolcetto is a darling of Piemonte, often grown on the same hills as the Nebbiolo that creates grand Barolo and Barbaresco, but at different elevation, making excellent trattoria wine. (The noble grapes of Piemonte have their own history in California thanks to Italian agricultural immigration in the 1800s. )
And finally, get a visionary winemaker like Sam Bilbro, who grew up in wine country and was exposed to the incredible wines of Piemonte while working in the restaurant industry. He sought out vineyards in Mendocino County ideal for fog-loving Italian vines. He treats his vines with care, but not a heavy hand. He believes in minimalist techniques where the fruit and the earth can speak for themselves. Because the fruit was mostly left whole-cluster, all fermentations began spontaneously from the natural yeast on their skins. The grapes were foot-tread (getting some Lucy Ricardo in Italy vibes, here!) and allowed to slowly ferment, then pressed once more in an old-fashioned basket press before beging aged in old, large-format Slovonian botti for a year, with another year of bottle aging. That is some VERY traditional Italian winemaking, not often found here in California!
This wine has a great tannic kick, but it also has a savory, anise-like notes that is brightened up by dried rose petals, black plums, and roasted cherries. We love this bottle with homemade burgers or meatballs! If you enjoy the wines, make sure to can make a reservation at the Idlewild tasting room and salumi bar in Healdsburg, CA.
— Cara Patricia