Iapetus 2016 Tectonic: A Delicious Skin-Contact La Crescent from Vermont

Hello Friends,

Vermont may be one of the last states you think of for producing fine wine. However, for those with an open-mind and an adventurous palate, hidden gems await you. Despite seeing wines from only a handful of well-known states on most store shelves, today wine is produced in all fifty states. The trick is finding these wines. Social media provides an avenue to develop relations with small-scale wine producers you wouldn’t otherwise find in your local market.

Iapetus 2016 Tectonic

During a recent virtual chat on #winestudio—an online education program on Twitter that happens every Tuesday at 9PM EST—I had the pleasure of meeting Ethan Joseph. Ethan is vineyard manager and head winemaker of Shelburne Vineyard in Shelburne, Vermont. We were introduced to Iapetus (pronounced ī-ˈa-pə-təs); a new sub-brand he developed that’s committed to sustainable farming and minimal intervention, allowing each bottle crafted to fully express its [Vermont] origins.

“We decided to let it ferment on the skins and then we tasted it as the days passed. It has evolved substantially since those early days. I think I said ‘wow’ from the very beginning. I was pleasantly surprised.” ~ Ethan Joseph

In a cool/cold climate region such as Vermont, name recognition and market demand does not have strong influence over what’s planted; Mother Nature does. For this reason, you may run across some cold-hardy hybrid varieties that you’ve never heard of. The term “hybrid” refers to a grape created by breeding two varieties from different species. In the right hands—and planted on the right land—hybrids can produce solid wines that would appeal to even the snobbiest of consumers (especially when tasted blind). According to Ethan, “It's important to recognize that our wines are made with hybrid varieties, but it’s equally important to look beyond that.”

“A lot of the market has come to us, which is an ideal situation and we’re privileged to have it. In the case of the Tectonic, it is at a perfect intersection of the orange niche, an unknown appellation, and a damn good wine.” ~ Ethan Joseph

This brings me to Iapetus 2016 Tectonic, a limited-production wine made from 100% La Crescent—a white hybrid grape bred to resist cold climates that was developed at the University of Minnesota and released to the market in 2002. This wine is macerated on the skins for fifty days. Whether you call it an orange, amber, or skin-contact wine, the style is essentially a white wine that’s made more like a red wine, where the grape skins impart color and other qualities to the wine. For Tectonic, Ethan said, “La Crescent seems to work quite well as a skin-ferment because it’s so aromatic, and those change quite a bit when the wine is dry.” Tectonic is dry, and certainly more of a cerebral wine than not. I find it appealing, and think you will too. For further information and where you can find it, please see my tasting notes below.

“The ultimate goal is discovering styles and techniques that really allow for our region and varieties to express themselves—truly geocratic wines. (drops mic)” ~ Ethan Joseph

Iapetus 2016 Tectonic (SRP $24): Named for the structural forces beneath our feet, this wine pours a cloudy peach color with an orange hue. Enticing aromas of citrus blossom and rose petal join flavors of honeydew melon and black tea on the palate. Noteworthy for its round mouthfeel and waxy texture, a spine of juicy acidity provides lift and freshness, ending with a satisfying, slightly bitter, pithy finish.  This is a very food-friendly wine that is also highly enjoyable on its own. It is best served at cellar temperature, where its charming personality is on full display. Only 132 cases of this wine were produced. Regions: Shelburne, Vermont and Charlotte, Vermont. Other info: ABV 14%, hand-harvested, 50 day maceration, aged sur lie for 8 months in neutral barrel/stainless steel, unfined and unfiltered, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

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