“I’m never a fan of Massican as an age-worthy white wine,” Dan Petroski told me, via Zoom, after I’d tasted his new 2019 releases — Hyde Chardonnay, Napa Sauvignon blanc, and two white blends: Annia and Gemina.
“I want them young and fresh and bright. I want them with power and texture and liveliness. I don’t want this golden honeyed, baked-apple-y, nutty character that these wines ride off into the sunset with. I want citrus and salinity and brightness. My vision of Massican is Mediterranean,” he continued. “I think about the salt and the citrus, and the breezes, and the florals — and that’s what those wines should represent the glass.”
I think he nailed it. The 2019s seem, to me, like Petroski’s best yet. They are are rounded and textural yet retain freshness and vibrancy. Whereas in earlier vintages, the acidity felt linear and direct, and the wines needed a little time in bottle to come around, these wines feel ready right now.
“I agree with you. Hundred percent,” Petroski told me. “Some of my earlier bottlings were very sharp. In 2009, 2010, 2011 I was doing a lot of bâtonnage, integrating them so that they were drinkable early, but then they didn’t really age very well. In 2013, 2014, 2015, I stopped doing that. I realized that in warmer vintages like 2015 and 2017, Mother Nature naturally softened and made them more seamless. They weren’t necessarily growing and alcohol, they were just reducing acidity.”
It seems intuitive that extreme heat would soften bring the acidity down, but amazingly these wines still feel vivid and fresh.
“So, 2019 was the quietly the third warmest vintage we’ve had in the last fifteen years,” Petroski confided. “That warmth was really shocking. To go into the vineyards and taste grapes in the very early stages of development, to have such little acid, I was like — Hm. So the seamlessness you’re getting is that when Massican’s acidity drops, the wines tend to be much more approachable young. Now we need to see how they age over time.”
2019 Massican Sauvignon blanc Napa Valley
Daniel Petroski ferments his Sauvignon blanc in stainless steel and neutral vessels to let the fruit shine. The wine has a salty scent accented with lime juice and peels and fresh-cut grass. Its expansive, coating texture carries citrus and herbs. It feels seamless, cooling, and elegant.
13.3% abv | $32
2019 Massican White Wine Gemina California
Gemina is 74 percent Pinot bianco, from Napa Valley, with the balance of Greco di Tufo grown in Sonoma. Its faintly herb-accented fragrance also mingles citrus and orchard fruits with a hint of wet stone. This is slightly more substantial Gemina than past vintages, and the wine spreads out laterally in waves of fruits and peels before finishing in a sparkle of lime zest. As with all the Gemina vintages, it should be poured cool but not cold.
13% abv | $32
2019 Massican Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard Napa Valley
Petroksi ferments the Musqué clone of Chardonnay, sourced from Larry Hyde’s Carneros vineyard, in 100 percent new French oak. The wine ages for six months before bottling, and a dollop of it finds its way into Annia (below). The wine is expansive, slicked with cream and nut but with substantial structure and flavors of preserved lemon, roasted almonds, and dried hay.
13.4% abv | $50
2019 Massican Annia Napa Valley
Annia is a blend of Tocai Friulano (53%), Ribolla gialla (39%), and Chardonnay. This is one of the most genial Annias of the seven vintages I’ve tasted. Its perfume of orchard fruits and flowers conjures yellow apple, apple blossom, and pear, plus a top note of citrus and tarragon. The palate spreads out in honeyed notes of baked apple and preserved lemon and delivers a salty tang at the finish. In the deep distance there is something like Bosc pear. It’s not sweet — just rounded, complex, burnished.
12.8% abv | $30
All wines were review samples.