NORTH YUBA, Sierra Foothills
Emboldened by a formative stint at Big Table Farm in Oregon, east coasters Aaron and Cara Mockrish moved to North Yuba, California with a mind to start a farm raising sheep and growing vegetables. That all changed when they encountered a bottle of 2008 Clos Saron ‘Black Pearl.’ The wine captivated them and upon discovering that Clos Saron was just up the road they set out to make a connection. This evolved into an apprenticeship of sorts that formed the foundation for what is now Frenchtown. Although Frenchtown began as an ideological successor to the Clos Saron legacy, Cara and Aaron have been through a rigorous process of exploration to find their own voice. Eye opening conversations with luminaries like Batiste Overnoy, Pescaline Lepeltier and Nicolas Gordo of Domaine Simon Bize have helped them develop new ideas about how to temper and communicate North Yuba’s monumental terroir to produce more youthful wines.
The free run juice of foot crushed Renaissance grown Sauvignon Blanc (60%) and Syrah (40%) barrel fermented and aged.
70% Mourvedre and 20% Grenache from an organic vineyard on the slopes of the Gold Hill with 10% of their homegrown Renaissance Syrah to fortify the wine. They let the maceration go for 8 days before pressing and age the wine in 228L barrels.
The Frenchtown Farms Bordelaise wine. This vintage is 60% Merlot with 35% Cab and a dollop of 5% Semillon all from Renaissance. Cofermented like the other wines and pressed after a 4 day 'infusion.'
Sauvignon Blanc with 15% Roussanne, macerated with the skins for about 5 days until the fermentation really kicks off. Pressed into neutral French oak barrels for 9-10 months before assemblage and bottling 5-6 weeks later.
“We have a new direction that we’re so excited about” Aaron says of their decision to get away from working with purchased fruit altogether. As of 2020's harvest, their wines will be exclusively made from their own crops. All of their negoce wines from previous harvests will be sold under the quirky Et Alia label created by Gideon’s ~18 year old son for like fifty bucks. “We basically had what I feel is beautiful wine on our hands and wanted to find a way to work with it at a price that’s a no brainer” he says. Not only are these wines delish, amusing and delightfully thrifty but they help Aaron and Cara bring their new vision to the market faster.
ET ALIA PINOT NOIR
The limestone-rich vineyard sits at one of the only East facing slopes in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. “There’s only so many perfect spots in the valley” Aaron says. Whole cluster fermented and aged in neutral barrel with low sulfite addition.
ET ALIA PICPOUL
The grapes are foot crushed as whole clusters, soaked overnight and pressed the following morning into steel tanks. After ferment they transfer the base wine to barrels with barely any lees at all, an unusual move for them but a great way to preserve the brilliance they wanted to capture in the wine.'