Who is Hardy Wallace? Is he the winner of Murphy Goode’s “A Really Goode Job” contest?
Is he the bespectacled chipmunk-voiced man that revolutionized Bordeaux en primeur wine criticism with his rating scale that ranges from 101.00 to 102.36?
Hardy Wallace is all those things, and many, many more. He also happens to make really amazing natural wine in California. When you sit down with Hardy, his infectious humor is always on display, but there’s also a real zest for life, and his passion for flavors in food and wine reveal a sophisticated and discerning mind underneath all the jokes.Along with his long time friend and renowned food blogger and videographer Matt Richardson, aka Rowdy, The Dirty and Rowdy Family Winery is indeed America’s #1 Winery. They source fruit from organic vineyards to make wines that knocked our socks off with their lightness, energy, and depth of earthy flavors.
Check out some things Hardy likes about natural wines here.
2014 Yountville Napa Valley Skin and Egg Fermented Semillon — Back to the top
Grapes: 100% Semillon
Elevation: <400 feet
Total Production: 430 cases of the wild and wooly.
Two suggestions (“rules” sounds too harsh) for our Semillon:
- 1. Do not serve the Semillon ice-cold / straight from the ‘fridge (cool, is ok. Cellar temp is “wayyy ok”).
- 2. A 1-2 hour decant is ideal. If unable to do so- even 15 minutes of air makes a significant difference.
Atomized river stones, fennel bulb, basil lemonade, and Belgian sour aromatics- lightweight, with a broad palate filled with sweet & sour citrus and cool rock. Though savage in appearance, there is a line of focus that runs from snout to tail, stone to stars… It is as if Copernicus himself was raised by wolves!! This Semillon is a wine for those who stare into the depth of the universe and say “ohhhh yeah” vs “ohhhh no.” 75% of this wine was fermented on its skins for 16 days. 25% of the wine was direct to press fermented in a concrete egg tank (no skin contact).
Vinification Method: 80% of the fruit was fermented on its skins in an open top tank through primary fermentation (about 2wks) and pressed off into old oak barrels. The other 20% of the fruit was pressed off immediately upon arrival to the winery into a concrete egg shaped tank where it fermented and rested until being blended with the skin fermented lot before bottling. Native fermentation. Unfined & unfiltered. Minimal effective sulfites.
Elevage: Two barrels (100% neutral French oak) and one 160 gallon concrete egg (racked into 3 neutral French oak barrels post fermentation)
2014 Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard Mourvèdre — Back to the top
Grapes: 100% Mourvèdre
Elevation: 3200+ feet
Total Production: 44 cases
At 3200ft, on a clay loam and sandstone slope in the middle of nowhere, someone was crazy enough to plant a vineyard, “because it looked like Napa.” I do not want to burst anyone’s bubble, but Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard may have more in common with Death Valley than Napa Valley. Extreme in its location, it produces a distinctive Mourvèdre; it is a wine of lift and light. It was the vineyard that got us started. It is the vineyard that keeps us going.
The sadness with this wine is that there are only 44 cases. The joy is that there is anything at all. Spice and stone, it has more polish than the Familiar. The lines are more defined, the finish more elegant. It is still the Mourvèdre for Gamay lovers. It has its unmistakeable mashed raspberry notes and its flavors will convince the skeptics that wine is food. It is delicious.
Vinification Method: 100% Whole Cluster Fermentation. Native yeast. Lightly tread by foot, pumped over 1-2x a day. Racked only at bottling. Unfiltered, unfined. Minimal sulfur.
2014 “Especial” Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard Mourvèdre, — Back to the top
Elevation: 3200 feet
Total Production: 65 cases
If the Semillon is our white wine of choice of Cosmonauts, the Especial is our red wine of choice for time-travelers. Amber-ish red in color, this is wine looks like a CA Pinot Noir from the ’80’s. For those not familiar with the “Especial” it is the same fruit from the same pick as the Santa Barbara Highlands Mourvèdre. It is a separate fermentation where we leave the skins and stems in contact with the juice for approximately 6 days (about 1/2 the length of the regular SBH Mourvèdre). At the end of the 6 day maceration, we press the still fermenting juice into a concrete egg fermenter and the wine finishes fermentation away from the skins and remains in the concrete egg until bottling. We were nervous when we released the ’13, as it colored way outside of the lines. The ’14 continues in the same tradition.
Savory and stoney aromatics. A round palate, framed in gentle, gripping tannins, and at the wine’s center is blood orange juice, herbs, and incense. The ’13 did some wine-bending acrobatics; it often remained fresh and improved after being open for often more than a week- segueing its flavors from mountain music from some far off place, to becoming almost classical in composition. Will the ’14 make the same changes? We do not know. It is tighter than the ’13 and still maintains the wild juicy core.
Vinification Method: 100% Whole Cluster Fermentation. Pressed at 12 bris into a 600L concrete egg tank. Native yeast. Lightly tread by foot throughout fermentation (1x a day). Racked only at bottling. Unfiltered, unfined. Minimal sulfur.
2014 California “Familiar” — Back to the top
Grapes: 100% Mourvèdre
Total Production: 431 cases of happiness
In 2013 our Familiar was the happy result of an unfortunate mistake (blending in some Petite Sirah into a tank of Mourvèdre). In 2014, there was no error. We wanted to make the most friendly, Dirty and Rowdy table wine possible. Familiar- Spanish for “Family.” A wine to be put on the table, to be hoisted up lovingly with toast after toast, and to be paired with whatever finds its way to your table.
The 2014 Familiar is 100% Mourvèdre and a blend from 5 of our 7 Mourvèdre vineyards. Santa Barbara Highlands, Shake Ridge Ranch, Antle Vineyard, Skinner White Oak Flats and Skinner Stoney Creek (Amador, El Dorado, Monterey, and Santa Barbara Counties). In this bottle is a long road- one we drive week in and week out. Like a constellation, this wine joyfully connects the dots on the map between here and there, you and us.
The Familiar smells like exotic perfume and (clean) hippies. Musk, sandalwood, frankincense, and is that a hint of myrrh!? Tart cherry and cranberry fruit. Minerality like the slopes of Fleurie? No, this is one long mother-lovin’ stretch of California Mourvèdre! This wine will get you moving, and you may just hear it say, “Yeah, you do!”
Vinification Method: 100% Whole Cluster Fermentation. Native yeast. No temperature controlled fermentation. Lightly tread by foot throughout fermentation (1-2x a day). Racked only at bottling. Bottled without filtration.
Our Familiar bottles are closed with Nomacorc Select Bio corks. They are made from sugarcane, are recyclable, breathable, and 100% carbon neutral. Drink ’em before the end of 2017!
2013 Antle Vineyard Mourvèdre — Back to the top
Elevation: 2000 feet
Total Production: 90 cases
Scene From the 1982 classic “Conan The Barbarian” Mongol General: “What is best in life?” Mongol soldier: “The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.” General: “Wrong!!!!” The General never spent time on the Antle Vineyard- Because it would be best in life to be at Antle Vineyard on horseback with a couple of falcons, and some breeze heading up the slope. It is rugged, open, and remote. The vineyard sits on the rocky slopes just below Pinnacles National Park (the US’s newest National Park). The top of the block is a remarkable blend of limestone and granite scree with almost nothing capable of growing through the rocks. It is a different planet. The nose on this Mourvèdre is driven by purple floral aromas with ripe red fruit and sweet apple skin. It is instantly alive in the glass and runs through the palate with fleshy fruit and gorgeous acid wrapped around the beating limestone heart of a mythical giant bird. This is very serious wine. Flesh n’ bones n’ stones. (Dirty’s favorite Mourvèdre to date).
Vinification Method: 100% Whole Cluster Fermentation. Native yeast. Lightly tread by foot at the start of fermentation (1-2x a day) and then gentle pump overs 2x a day.. Aged in 5-8 year old neutral French Oak barrels Racked only at bottling. Unfined. Unfiltered.
2013 Alder Springs Vineyard Chardonnay— Back to the top
Elevation: 1700-2000 feet
Total Production: 50 cases
Note: Please give this wine some time to relax or a super long decant. At this stage it is a little wild, wound, and paces the cage just waiting for a couple of fingers to reach in. If decide fyou must poke the beast, decant the wine for an hour or two, re-bottle, and drink day 2 (or 3). It will be worth the wait. This wine has California texture and old world crunch and acidity. It is Asian pear, chalk, chamomile tea, Spring carrot, and after a day or so, faint notes of mocha (?). The wine is medium+ bodied. It is mouth coating, with lemon viscosity- balancing on a laser. The finish is powerful and electric, and if you drink it outside as the sun goes down you might just feel the trees breathing. This is not a cocktail Chardonnay. It calls for fried chicken from the depth of its soul. Lobster tacos, Oyster po’ boys, and roast chicken with butter beans are acceptable substitutes. We did not ease our way into Chardonnay. This wine tested our mettle. We gave it everything we had (in a hands off way)- worry, time, distance, and never-ending love.
Vinification Method: The fruit was tread gently before being whole cluster pressed. The wine fermented and aged for 7 months in a concrete egg. In Spring of 2014, it was racked to 5 year old neutral, French oak barrels for an additional 8 months of rest. Bottled without fining or filtration.
2013 Shake Ridge Ranch Mourvèdre — Back to the top
Elevation: 1700-2000 feet
Total Production: 90 cases
Each vintage, Shake Ridge Ranch produces the darkest flavors of any of our 7 Mourvèdre vineyards. Flavors that creep up on you while lost in the forest at sundown, rustling in the brambles with Blackberry- (fruit, leaf, and stem) cinnamon, and cedar. Our Shake Ridge Ranch pounces juicy, wound, with ample acidity and the pecks of short beaked tannins that would tear you apart if they weren’t on some sort of freaky three-eyed baby devil-bird. The wine finishes with a clear path-out of the woods and towards home, led by fruit and granite driven relief. As many of you know- Shake Ridge Ranch is our home away from home. Kate and Hardy lived / worked on the property in 2011 and were engaged there. It is also the inspiration for our label (with the weedwhacker, cat, and snake) and for many other things.
Vinification Method: 100% Whole Cluster Fermentation. Native yeast. No temperature controlled fermentation. Lightly tread by foot throughout fermentation (1-2x a day). Aged a, 5 year old neutral, French Oak barrel and one 7 year old, neutral French Oak, 600L Demi-Muid. Racked only at bottling. Bottled July 2013 without fining or filtration.