A Syrah for All Palates: Carbonic Winemaking
Vinification style is one of the most challenging and rewarding steps in creating new twists on old favorites as a winemaker. Syrah is known for being bold and fruit-forward with aromatic notes of pepper and smoke mixed with fruit. We creatively produce two types of Syrah, both made from the same block of fruit off of the same vineyard, just vinified differently. Just Because 2020 is made in the carbonic style, while The Bedfellow 2020 utilizes the traditional Syrah-creation approach.
What is the Difference Between Carbonic and Traditional?
Traditional fermentation begins by de-stemming grape clusters and crushing the fruit before fermentation. Syrah grapes are typically cold soaked for days or weeks in order to better develop the color and fruit flavor, all of which takes a lot of time! The Bedfellow fruit began as 50% whole cluster (grapes attached to stems) and 50% de-stemmed (berries only) and I manually foot-tread the fruit to better integrate the berries, clusters and stems. Traditional Syrahs spend a prolonged period of time in barrel, and The Bedfellow was no different, spending fifteen months in 50% new French Oak and 50% neutral oak barrel.
The carbonic style of winemaking was invented in France (Beaujolais Nouveau) and the resulting wines are known to be light, fruit forward with little tannin, and intended to drink young. Carbonic maceration introduces whole clusters with stems into a sealed fermentor and therefore is produced in a fraction of the time. I chose this style for the Just Because 2020 and added my own twist in the cellar.
My Carbonic Process
This phenomenal fruit arrived from the Homestead Hill Vineyard in the Willow Creek AVA of Paso Robles and I separated the grapes for the two vinification processes (above). Setting The Bedfellow fruit to cold soak, I got to work on the carbonic wine. The whole clusters of grapes and stems are sealed in the fermentor, then the oxygen is eliminated and sealed, creating an anaerobic atmosphere to allow for a native fermentation to run its course for an extended period; it remained sealed for a whopping 49 days. During this period, sugar is broken down sequentially into ethanol. Inside the fermentor, the clusters naturally settle, gently pressing themselves and producing juice in which to soak. Typically, the first juice is bled off, but I opted to retain all the runoff within the fermentor in hopes of enhancing the color, structure, and flavor. The fermentation primarily occurs within the grape berry itself, intracellular fermentation, and you can see how the grape clusters look at the end of the process in the image above. Once pressed, the wine was aged in neutral oak barrels for eight months.
The resulting Just Because Syrah 2020 offers a full-bodied wine with surprising structure and light tannins. With a nose full of leather, white pepper, and a palate of juicy fruits, this unorthodox vinification allows the wine to drink like a sophisticated Syrah with a fresh twist. Enjoy Just Because in any setting — it pleases every crowd at a cocktail hour or backyard barbecue.
Discover the subtleties of the methods yourself with our two favorite Syrahs. Taste the difference between carbonic Just Because 2020 and traditional The Bedfellow 2020 (only available to club members; membership here). Compare medium tannins, dark blackberry pie, mocha, and pepper aromas of The Bedfellow to the light tannin, leather notes, white pepper, and red fruits of Just Because. Both wines are created from Syrah grapes from Homestead Hill Vineyard in the prestigious Willow Creek District AVA of Paso Robles.