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Josh in the Thibido Estate Vineyard located in Willow Creek Districxt of Paso Robles.

Articles from the Winemaker

Josh shares vine­yard high­lights, dis­cuss­es top­ics of inter­est, and offers cel­lar updates.

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.