I’m excited ya’ll. Not just because we’re talking about a new wine this week, but we also have ourselves a lil’ history lesson prepared. Let’s go ahead and get into the 2019 Bogan Rhapsody from our favs over at Forlorn Hope.
First off- we gotta cover some ground. Forlorn Hope is run by winemaker Matthew Rorick out of Calaveras County (east of Napa for more context) and I’ve sure you’ve heard us talk about his wines. We’ve carried the Forlorn Hope Red and Rose since we opened with his Whites and Ambers sneaking in and out of the case- and don’t get me started on the library of Forlorn Hope vintages we have in the cellar. He purchased the Rorick Heritage Vineyard (RHV for short) in 2013 and converted the land to entirely organic and natural growing methods. Classic case of nothing added, nothing taken away- but with Forlorn Hope the philosophy is more what we’re concerned with.
Rorick started his career making wines for other producers in Sonoma and Napa, but always had his little secret on the side- Forlorn Hope. Considered his “creative outlet” for winemaking he quickly transitioned into a full focus on Forlorn. Despite people not believing in his possible success he continued on- volunteering to be at the forefront of the contemporary wine world no matter the danger or chance for failure which is where the name came from. A Forlorn Hope is a group of volunteer troops racing into the frontline of war when there wasn’t hope for success.
Following suit of the name, Forlorn Hope focused on varieties that were strange, but hopeless. Rorick focused on pre-prohibition Californian grapes- from Mondeuse to Albarino to rare Portugese varietals no one would expect. How’d he do it? He considered the climate of Cali, Mediterranean almost, and he considered the grapes that were first grown in Cali too, such as Alvarelhao and Tinta Roriz. He went on this streak for years, growing and producing grapes and wines no one had seen in nearly a century- that conventional winemakers of Zinfandel and Cab Sauv wouldn’t dare attempt. It was a Forlorn Hope.
This year however- very different. When I was looking at our incoming orders I saw Forlorn Hope...followed by Zinfandel? I stepped back for a second.
“Whoa...ok...what is Matt up to?”
After some thinking I realized what was going on- he was subverting our expectations while still fleshing out what we expect to get from FH. This round of vintages are different for a reason.
Let’s get back to the wine: 2019 Bogan Rhapsody. A Zinfandel/Albarino blend- this lil diddy is considered a “co-ferment” or “field blend” in practice- but wait- the bottle says “Table Wine”. Why? I thought we were past the whole “Table Wine” thing right? Wrong!
Way back when wine was first being produced you didn’t have a lot to work with sometimes. Every Bogan on the block was making wine (bogan being “an uncouth or unsophisticated person regarded as being of low social status”) So as a way to produce wine consistently every year you threw a little bit of everything you had in there. Remember: you were sharing this wine, not selling it- you’d find the bottle in the house, resting on the table nearly knocked over by kids playing ring-around-the-rosie in the kitchen. You made this stuff for your family and friends, neighbors and acquaintances- not for the market or the big wigs. On top of that, in a lot of cases your white grapes grew close to your red grapes and you couldn’t necessarily always put out a single varietal wine- if you were even worried about that. As a result we got the “field blend” angle on the table wine- a mixture of the grapes available that year thrown together to make something especially representative of the land they were grown on.
So we’ve got a throwback hit on our hands, but hold on...why’s it taste like a pop hit? A field-blend-table-wine with the intention of being just that, but so much more elevated and complex while still maintaining a connection to history and experience. What’s so new and refreshing about the concept with the Bogan Rhapsody is how these grapes make it to wine. The Zinfandel in the Bogan goes through a process called carbonic fermentation. A well known process for Beaujolais Gamay- but it's not the French classic rock ballad you thought it was- not something trapped in the 60s with ‘Breathless’ looping on the projector. Carbonic fermentation has been used on tons of grapes of all styles across the world- but California Zinfandel and carbonic go way back- which is exactly why rorick brought it back- another revamped historical callback. The guy doesn’t know when to stop- and we love him for it.
So the Zinfandel gets carbonic- which means they put the grapes in there: whole cluster, stems and all, unpressed and fully intact. Then they seal the vessel they're fermenting in and pump CO2 in. What happens is crazy- each grape is now fermenting inside it’s own skins. Using the sugar and yeast present in each grape on top of the intake of CO2 produces a light, slightly fizzy, buoyant, and deliciously fruity wine encapsulated in the grape skin. Now what Rorick did was treat the Zinfandel through carbonic, but before he sealed it up he tossed a bunch of fresh pressed Albarino juice. So two kinds of fermentation are occurring at the same time- working together and blending to create this wild wine. And I know it sounds complicated- but I promise it definitely worked out.
The Bogan Rhapsody definitely makes you ask: “Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide...”
Ok, ok- cut me some slack ya’ll. I knew you were waiting for it the whole time- admit it.
Now after all that history and technical mumbo jumbo- let’s get to the taste. The look of it in the glass is like a watery, clouded glass plum/pomegranate juice, or a dark hued Asheville summer sunset- nearly purple, but not just there yet. The nose is straight wildflower and berries with just a dash of anise and lavender. At different temperatures this wine does a field waltz. The colder the more honed in on the berry aspect- which I’m convinced is pluot or plumcot (a hybrid of apricot and plum), the closer to room the more the floral aspects take control- and the spot in the middle highlights the light spice notes that will consistently surprise you. Fruity, clean, round-yet-acidic, and angular- complex is a small word when talking about this one. It’s perfect for a hot day by the creek, or a southern summer night - humid, with candles on the porch (which is how I enjoyed it), but I could easily see this popped in fall or winter- it has an ambiguous year round easy to reach for feeling that I can’t yet pin down.
If you reached the end of this and are wondering: “Why is this review so loooooong?”
Well first off it’s because it’s an incredible piece of work that you’re guaranteed to enjoy, but also...we only have 9 bottles. It's an incredibly exclusive and accessible take on a historical farmhouse wine, but with a new Top 40 Hit vibe you can’t escape. Come by and let me talk to you about it.
- E <3