The swathe of mustard flowers painting the landscape of wine country in California signals the next phase of the vintage that is to be 2021. Unique to California from January to March, the mustard acts as a biofumigant against pesky nematodes and helps to regenerate the soil with nitrogen depleted in the previous vintage. The mustard fields are a reminder of the importance of flora and fauna in a vineyard and the expressions they can bring to the final wine and the protection they provide.
Well before natural wines became trendy, the wines of Clos Saron served as examples of what wines, that are touched by gentle hands supporting nature, can be. Clos Saron's wines are pure expressions of the relationships between flowers, soil, birds, bees and the vines. While it is understood that flowers are key to attracting pollinators, as important is what they bring to the soil and the grapes. Clos Saron's Home Vineyard has one of the most distinct Pinot Noir I have ever tasted. The soil is volcanic and the vines are own rooted, it is cool enough to support the varietal, yet warm enough to excite the terroir. The Pinot is neither fruity nor barnyard, it does not have the often distinctive regional Pinot Noir flavor profiles, it is earthy, with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg added to enticing autumnal fruits, such as plum and damson, aromatics of pumice and quince evolve into a well structured, light to medium bodied, fascinating wine. The White Field (which includes some red varietals) near to the Home Vineyard is a field blended with varietals that includes Viognier, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Counoise, Petite Manseng and Gewurztraminer. Planted in 2011, the field is an exciting experiment in varietal co-habitation. The vines let the winemaker know what should be blended each and every year and provide vintage variation at the varietal level that is unique. The flowers surrounding the Field kiss the vines with pungent, captivating aromas. It is hard not to imagine the vines benefitting from the beautiful scents exuding from these gifts of nature.
As important to making wines that express their natural surroundings is a light touch in the winery. Letting the juice flow and evolve in the barrel and in the bottle is what makes Gideon Beinstock's wines some of the most age worthy I have tasted from the US. Gideon is the first to tell you these wines are not intended to be enjoyed young. They can be explored but really don't find their stride until five, ten or fifteen years. I have had the great pleasure of drinking older vintages of Clos Saron and they never disappoint. I enjoy Gideon's company, he has taught me a great deal about wine and life. He is philosophical, down to earth and has more energy than any winemaker I have yet to meet. His encyclopedic knowledge of all his wines, vintages, vines and customers is impressive. The wines of Clos Saron are a window into pure winemaking and what nature brings to wine when vines and flowers are left to grow side by side.