Last fall I had the pleasure of unexpectedly meeting the largest producer of St. Laurent in California, JonEVino. We got to talking about obscure, lesser known varietals and I mentioned how I love St. Laurent specifically the one made at Tres Sabores. He smiled and said, "that's my wine!" I was so suprised and excited to meet the man behind the wine. He invited me up to Tres Sabores in Rutherford, where he makes his St. Laurent alongside his wife Julie Johnson, winemaker of Tres Sabores. We barrel sampled through his different lots of St. Laurent from the 2016 and 2015 vintage. It was so amazing to see his variations of the grape. He experiments with many different trials including whole cluster and carbonic maceration.
Jon has over forty years of winemaking experience. He is a graduate of Enology from Cal State Fresno and has worked as a winemaker in Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara. After a life changing trip to the Nashik Valley of India, Jon was inspired to create a wine that paired well with the spicy cuisine he loves. When he tasted the St Laurent grapes for the first time he knew this was the wine he needed to make. For Jon, winemaking isn't about the scores or making the same varietals as everyone else does in Napa Valley because it's expected; it's about doing what he loves and being true to himself and the grapes he works with. What I admire about Jon is that you can feel his sincerity and passion for what he does through his wines. His curious, exploratory nature is motivating and inspiring to me to approach winemaking with the same innovative spirit.
St Laurent is an Austrian variety with an ancestry that is still unclear, although it’s thought to be a cross between Pinot and Savagnin. St Laurent has been referred to as the “kinky cousin of Pinot Noir”, with its low alcohol, low tannin and high color, and broad palate feel. St Laurent is found predominantly in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. Jon sources his grapes from the Ricci Vineyards in the Los Carneros region of Sonoma County. Long time grower Dale Ricci was the first to plant St Laurent in California. The original cuttings of the Ricci Vineyard were from Pfalz, Germany.
For the 2014 vintage, Jon harvested 7 tons of St. Laurent and fermented in open top bins outside utilizing the warmth of the sun and reflective insulation. The label is incredibly eye catching and deceiving. At a first glance I thought the label was a water color painting or something created by a graphic artist. The truth is the image on the label is actually a moment that Jon captured with his phone of his wine being pressed. The stainless steel background and the vibrant purple colors are so contrasting and alluring.
This wine is perfumey, floral, spicy, juicy, and fresh. It tastes of raspberry, cherry, and strawberry with a cleansing acidity that makes it easy to enjoy with food. A friend of Jon described it as, “if cru Beaujolais and Dolcetto were blended” and I totally get that. A few of Jon's favorite pairings with his 2014 St Laurent are-----any spicy dishes, oysters, goat cheese, duck salami, and grilled Aleppo peppers.