Jolie-Laide literally translates to ‘pretty ugly’ but is more a euphemism to refer to something with unconventional beauty. Winemaker Scott Schultz of Jolie-Laide Wines is one of the small craft winemakers in California working hard to express the beauty of what many consider ‘unconventional grapes’.
Scott hails from Chicago and moved to Napa in 2007. Having worked in restaurants for a while, he’s been on most sides of the service-life from working the restaurant floor to sweating in the kitchen. When he moved to Napa, it was to head up the wine program at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon. After years of restaurant work, Scott decided to get more into the winemaking side of things. He volunteered to work a harvest and loved it! He worked at Realm for a few years as cellar master and currently works with Pax Mahle at Wine Gap Wines. He shares winemaking space with Wind Gap, Ryme Cellars, and formerly Arnot-Roberts; all like-minded winemakers searching for beauty in the unconventional.
Scott is sourcing grapes from unique vineyard sites all organically or sustainably-farmed. His goal is to highlight these unique sites, producing wines in lighter and fresher styles that are made with very minimal intervention. His wines, and thus the labels, change slightly each year, “like album covers,” as Scott says. This year’s labels feature botanical drawings of butterflies, inspired by lepidoptera taxidermy (those huge boards with various butterfly specimen pinned onto them for study); something unconventionally beautiful in its own way.
Come by either Market to try these fascinatingly beautiful wines. Scott doesn’t make very much of any of these, so grab them while you can!
2013 Jolie-Laide Trousseau Gris – $26.99
Trousseau Gris is one of the greatest wine grapes you’ve probably never heard of. A mutation of the red-skinned Trousseau grape, which is native to the Jura region of France, Trousseau Gris’ skin and juice are both a blush rosy pink hue. Once widely planted throughout California and more commonly known as Grey Riesling, there are very few plantings remaining here. Scott sources his Trousseau Gris from the 10-hectare Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard in the Russian River valley, an organically farmed vineyard that he shares with Wind Gap Wines. At first glance in your glass, it might be hard to identify this wine as either white or rose, and it truly does toe the line between the two. Aromatic notes of citrus, green tea, and stone fruit lead to a richly textured palate with flavors of orange zest, wildflowers, and gentle tea-like tannins. It’s layered texture would pair beautifully with a variety of food, but we recommend something simple like a whole grilled trout stuffed with herbs.
2012 Rossi Ranch Red Blend – $36.99
The Rossi Ranch Vineyard is a truly special place. One of the remaining true ‘field-blends’ where different grapes are inter-planted, this vineyard is home to Grenache, Syrah, Muscat, and Viognier grapes. Most other people who have used this vineyard in the past have ignored the white varietals, leaving them to rot on the vine, and have made wines with the more traditional blends of Grenache and Syrah. However, Scott felt this site needed to be expressed as a whole, so he co-fermented all of the grapes together! The percentage of the white grapes blended is small, less than 2%, but once you realize they’re there, the aromatics are unmistakable. The light floral touch from the Viognier and Muscat are complemented by notes of rose, raspberry, rich tannins, and a long spicy finish. Drink this lightly chilled and enjoy it on it’s own – no food necessary!
Upcoming Wine Events:
- 18th Hour Cafe – Thursdays, 6-9PM – Drop-In – At 18 Reasons
- Wine Tasting with Keelyn of Alexia Moore Wines – Friday, May 30th, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
- Wine Tasting with Daniel of Kermit Lynch Wines – Friday, June 6th, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
- Anchor Beer Tasting – Saturday, June 7th, 3-5PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
- Producer Dinner: Mas de Daumas Gassac – Friday, June 6th, 6:30-9PM – At 18 Reasons
- Organic Women Winemakers of Italy – Saturday, June 7th, 3-5PM – At 18 Reasons