Highlights: Jolie Laide Dans le Vide 2021, California, USA

Jolie-Laide is a one-man operation based in the Sebastopol winery of Pax Mahle, where winemaker Scott Schultz (Pax’s cellar master), together with partner Jenny Schultz, makes only 3000 cases of wine a year under his own label. Pax’s winery is somewhat of an incubator for like-minded winemakers, providing the space and support for other garagiste producers like Scott. The name Jolie-Laide translates loosely to ‘Pretty-Ugly’ a French term of endearment to describe something that is unconventionally beautiful. From various cool climate vineyards around Northern California, this singular red blends 45% Trousseau Noir, 30% Cabernet Pfeffer, 20% Valdiguié, and 5% Gamay. Cab Pfeffer was originally thought to be Trousseau, but DNA testing shows it to be a unique French grape called Mourtaou. Each was native fermented separately, all whole bunch, and some partial carbo, adding more herbaceous freshness to this lighter red, aged in neutral oak. Bright cherry, fragrant wild raspberry wrap around a pure sweet-fruited core, scented with dried wild herbs and gripped with a subtle sapid branchiness. Studded with river stone and flake salts, this finishes with a raft of white pepper. Really intriguing and moreish, take this with a light chill. 93/100

Treve Ring

Treve Ring is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveller. [She is also Correspondent Anorak.]