We feel we have a singular opportunity to make opulent, intriguing Roussanne. Our southern location near 34 degrees latitude gives the Roussanne grapes intense solar radiation to tan the fruit the namesale “Rousse” or Rust color. Limestone soils and cold nights combine to maintain acidity late in the year. Low humidity and high winds keep the grapes clear of mold and for better or worse, we never get significant rain fall through harvest.
La Cuadrilla takes every possible effort in the vineyard to optimize the potential of our Roussanne fruit. In the late summer we pull every leaf away from the fruit to allow for full sun penetration. Then, about a month prior to harvest, when the sun-exposed side of each cluster tans, but the inside remains green, every grape cluster is gently hand-rotated 180 degrees to facilitate an even sun-tan. We could not make L’Avion without our full time crew, La Cuadrilla’s focus and determination.
Wine destined for L’Avion must go through three cuts. First, only the two older blocks of Roussanne are eligible for L’Avion. Then, only the prettiest, evenly “Rousse” - or sun tanned - clusters are selected by Cuadrilla. At last, we include only our favorite barrels for L’Avion. At the end of the day, L’Avion accounts for 25-33% of our total Roussanne production each year.
In the late 1930s, teenage cattle rancher Anchor Johnson and his buddies landed their rickety plane down the straight chute where Roussanne is now planted. The young men would park the plane under the oak tree at the end of the dirt strip. Roussanne rows now run lengthwise along the old runway, creating the inspiration for the lanes on the L’Avion label.
An exceptionally moderate vintage, 2016 created supple, coating wines that reward both those looking for immediate gratification and long-term Cellar rats. Regardless of vintage, these old, low-yielding Roussanne vines always give us tremendous intensity – the stamp of 2016 might be a heightened, deep sensuality on the ripe, perfumed nose.
Packed full of tropical fruit, golden pineapple, white flowers, jasmine, and the telltale L’Avion honeysuckle – the 2016 does not disappoint! These barrels were simply magical.
After a couple vintages of ratcheting down the new oak percentage, the insane concentration of 2016 justified a return to 100% new French 500L oak puncheon (40% new oak in typical barrel surface area equivalent) for fermentation and then 60% new 500L puncheons for extended aging, 40% neutral. The oak is already beautifully integrated and rather than toasty notes – the oak imparts sweet perfume and further depth to the beautifully concentrated fruit.
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