At Evidence wines, we are very pleased to take a position on Wine, and the world of making and drinking wine, that is from the onset, a slow your roll and relax approach. Coming from the cellar side of an Ultra Premium producer in Napa that made $200 a bottle wines, our winemaker Jason Court has a focused, but relaxed idea about how to make the best quality wine, at approachable prices, and keep the experience relaxed and comfortable and NOT an uptight, elitist experience. Jason doesn’t think ANY wine should cost $1000 dollars, no matter how good it is, and the fact that so many people are intimidated by drinking wine and having an opinion about it, is a testament on how we as American consumers have been presented with wine as a “Life Style” product rather than a “Food” product, which is what it is.
During the years of pushing pumps and hauling hoses in the wine cellar, Jason daydreamed of one day starting his own label, that focused on high quality at affordable prices, but still kept small and boutique in its approach. 8 Years from the onset of his first harvest, along with one of his oldest friends Chris, Jason set out with the Evidence concept and released the first of three projects, the ‘Evidence 2007 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon’. Within a few months, it took a Silver Medal at one of America’s most prestigious Wine events, the ‘San Francisco International Wine Competition’.
Jason explains, “After the initial success of our first release, I suddenly realized, making wine was kind of like making potato chips. Small batches, helps with the attention to detail and quality, and will yield great results. Making wine is like cooking, it just takes a couple years instead of a couple hours, and you have to approach it with your own palate just like you do with food. You make it the way YOU like things to taste, and hopefully the people who eat/drink it, feel the same way.”
How do we do affordable and still have great wine?
While working in the cellar, I realized a huge part of the initial cost of wine, is how much it cost to produce, and what the protocol in the production process is. In the past decade, not unlike the culinary arts and the preparation of food, there have been many cost effective, scientific improvements to the winemaking process, that reach the same end result, without the huge production cost. It’s not about cutting corners, but rather, finds the end result you want by using progressive techniques in the production process. Less is more, but there are ways to keep it high quality and affordable too. Keeping batches small is just one part it.
One of the ways we can make great wine at affordable prices is that we don’t own our own winery. We are a “custom Crush” client. For the majority of the year, a winery sits gathering dust in between harvests, so owning a multi million dollar operation, and adding THAT cost to the retail price of the wine, is no way to make great wine that’s affordable. So using someone else’s winery, at a significantly lower cost, allows us to pass that savings onto our customers too, but still have all the modern resources at our disposal to accomplish our end goal. Also, we don’t own or operate a tasting room. So, by using word of mouth, and direct marketing through technology, like here in My Wine Deal, Evidence can again, offer great wines at a really approachable price point. If we can make a $25 or $30 bottle hit the table and taste like a $50, we’ve accomplished our goal of affordable, high quality, boutique.
Our Winemaking Style
Unctuous, full bodied, multi-dimensional and expressive. Paying attention to what is going on in and around the vineyard is a telling story for the future of your wine.
Less is more is always the best approach in the cellar, so to allow a grape to express itself and all of it’s own complexity is pretty darn important to the outcome. Understanding that great wine starts in the vineyard, and that it is of utmost importance to source good fruit to make good wine. Winemaking is truly an expression of what you’re working with, and there is no turning dirt into gold. If you have OK fruit, you will have OK wine. If you have Ugly fruit, you will have ugly wine. If you have great fruit, and have Mother Nature cooperating with you, there is no excuse to make anything but good wine.
The Vintage of 2009
The vintage of our two current releases was one of the most demanding in recent years. The 35 year old vines that our Zinfandel was sourced from was taxed with variable elements of cold, wet, and a late heat break in the season that had us waiting until mid October to harvest, so the fruit would could get to full maturity and the right Brix levels to produce the wine we wanted. When Mother Nature is good to us, she keeps us into the higher temperatures around 100 degrees ‘F, thus dehydrating the grapes just short of what we call “dimpling” or “golf balling”. This concentrates flavor and complexity and increases the sugar levels so you can target your ending alcohol levels. In 2009, there were incredible fluctuations of heat and cold levels and oddly timed rains, that never really allowed the fruit to fully mature, and it forced a lot of winemakers to go against the ‘Farmers Almanac’ predictions, and wait longer to harvest the fruit, in hopes the heat would return, before the Fall really took hold and kept us in the cold. Taking a risk, and pushing back the pick another two weeks was a hugely stressful call, but in the end, worked out marvelously for us. For three days prior to pick, the vineyard was under hot, dry heat, that really taxed the vines, and dehydrated the fruit to awesome levels, and just three hours before (literally) the biggest storm of the century hit Northern California, we harvested our fruit from the Old Vine Stonam Vineyard, and trucked the fruit to Calistoga for the crush, in a deluge rain storm. Our stress and the Vines stress, really worked out in the end, and I couldn’t be happier with the end result. Cheers!
Food For This Wine
While acidity is really the integral component for a good “food wine’, it’s also important to have a wine that accentuates the flavor characteristics of what food you are eating it with. That being said, rich, fatty, and seasoned foods like BBQ Ribs and any smoked meats, are awesome pairings with these wines. Zinfandel and its spicy characteristics, lend itself to rich, heavy flavor foods, and with the addition of Sangiovese and Sauzao, both have the backbone to standup with the heartiest of food pairings.
How Would You Describe your wine to the MWD customers?
‘The Verdict Zin’
We’re not gonna lie, picked late at 31 brix, ‘The Verdict Zin’ has structure, acidity, mid palette, and a wood profile that accentuates the caramelized brown sugar waft of this wine. Aging 18 months on a mix of 45% New American Oak, and 55% New French Oak, it uplifts the spicy Zinfandel structure. With the American Oaks’ Herbaceous characteristics, and the French Oaks’, Crème Brule accent, the small addition of Sangiovese, and the Portuguese Sauzao varietal, ‘The Verdict Zin’ is spicy, not shy on alcohol, and has a sturdy wood backbone. This luscious ‘Old Vine’ Zinfandel matches well with ANYTHING within 200 yards of a dairy that’s worth grilling, or as a ‘Bistro’ (solve all the worlds problems), bottle of wine. Either way, it will end with a smile! Cheers!
Specific to its name, ‘Unorthodox’ conforms to no known blending protocol. Starting with our late harvest Zinfandel as a base, we focused on producing a bottle of wine that matched up to a juicy meal, or a visceral Café drinking experience. ‘Unorthodox’ is a fatty, tannic, structured mouth full of juice, with a fruit front palette, a smoky lingering tobacco leaf mid influence, and a hard, extremely un-shy Licorice finish. This juice hits it out! . With dusty fruit, sourced from ‘Old Vine’ vineyards in historic Lodi, CA. we sought to find the varietals that rounded out our quest for a “mouth full of wine”. Almost equal blends of American and French Oak aging (18 months), help to enhance the Portuguese, Sauzao varietals influence in the color and mid-structure of this Zinfandel based blend. Cab Franc and Malbec fatten up the end. With a cigar, or bacon wrapped steak with Béarnaise, this fat juice is on point! Crazy structure, this is a wine to keep for a while, or drink young and drool…
Planting Trees and giving back
As a side note, we at Evidence Wines have formed a partnership with The Arbor Day Foundation to commit to planting a tree for EVERY BOTTLE WE SELL. At the end of the day, we are farmers, and all that we rely on is created by Mother Earth and put into motion with Mother Nature, so it only makes sense to replenish the earth in other ways, as she provides for us.