6 ppm S02 at bottling
It is way darker than we ever expected. It could pass as a 100% red wine. It’s almost ruby with great intensity.
Candied cherry, rose petal, orange rind and a hint of green tea.
The palette is hard to describe. Soft isn’t the word, because everything hits you (acids, tannins, flavours), but it’s delicious. Almost like a super robust rose. Has soft tannin, so delicious.
First of all, when we say we made a Clarete, you may be thinking that we made an old-timey Bordeaux blend? Nope, that's spelt Claret.
... Or maybe a more obscure style of dark rose (also from Bordeaux)? Nope, that's spelt Clairet
... Or maybe we planted a relatively obscure white grape variety grown in the south of France, spent years tending it and finally have our first release to send your way? Nope, that's spelt Clairette.
And finally, I'm sure you are thinking “on yeah, I'm sure they made that relatively obscure, ancient style of wine from the mountains of Spain, where they co-ferment red grapes with white grapes to make a deliciously crushable light red (dark rose).” Yup, that's it. Spelling checks out. Clarete.
This wine is mind-bending. Its entire existence was marginally conceived as a concept, the execution was impromptu and improvised, and it turned out amazing. It's like having a child (yeah, that would be cool. Wait, what? WTF am I doing? Oh yeah, that kinda turned out).
As harvest was approaching we wanted to come up with a light red wine to add to our natural wine portfolio. We were having grand success with our skin-contact whites, pet-nats and Piquette, but we wanted to balance the roster a bit. The problem was, all of the natural red wine styles we could find fell under the amorphous category of Glou Glou (basically just a nondescript category that means chuggable red).
With winemaking, my brain tends to work in terms of steps. What's the process? And honestly, I couldn't find anything of interest that I hadn't done before that would rock my world. As I tend to do in the middle of the night when I cannot sleep, I started googling wine terms to try to learn something obscure and new. The search term was “red and white grapes co-fermented winemaking processes”, and after scrolling through several pages of nothing, I found an article that inspired this wine, “Clarete; the obscure light red you've never heard of”. Interest piqued.
Clarete as it turns out is an ancient and traditional wine from Spain that is made by co-fermenting up to 35% red grapes with white grapes. The big thing is they are fermented on the skins. Essentially make red wine with majority white grapes, or an orange wine but throwing in some red grapes to mix it up. Some consider the style to be the original rose. Modern versions have tended to limit the skin contact to make the wine only slightly coloured (like a rose), but more traditional styles tend to have a more prolonged maceration and appear more like a light red.
I'd like to say we planned on this version being in the more traditional vein, but the reality is we were so backlogged at harvest that even if we wanted to press the fruit off early, we wouldn't have had time to get there. It's traditional by default. It ended up spending an average of 25 days on the skins.
I'd like to say we planned on the wine having amazing colour intensity, but honestly, we had no idea how it was going to turn out.
I'd like to say that we planned on the blend being what it is (Chardonnay, Merlot, and Riesling), but it wasn't. We planned on a Chardonnay/Gamay blend, but the Gamay was late to arrive (and I wasn't sure whether it was even coming), so I did a panic buy and called around to see if I could get any reds (literally my ask was ANY red) and our main grower Kevin said he had some Merlot that was being harvested soon if I wanted it. Done. We ended up adding the Riesling because... I don't remember. I think it was because we wanted to add some natural acidity.
As with most things we do, there was a lot of planning and even more improvising. We let the fruit drive our production. We didn't expect this wine to turn out the way it did, but we love it.