The Wine: Sumu Kaw Syrah 2020
Artemis Botanical Sumu Kaw is a red natural wine made from 100% Syrah from Dave and Sheila of the famous-to-me Sumu Kaw vineyard in Placerville, California. The grapes are macerated for five days on the skins – whole cluster fermentation.
The Producer: Artemis Botanical
Artemis began as an idea to make fortified and aromatized wines that held to a certain set of standards — mostly regarding sustainable farming and a hands-off approach in the cellar. It was a way to reconcile the philosophy of the natural wine movement with my love for vermouth and spirits, which I felt were getting left behind in the march toward more transparent, ethical, and ecologically sound production. It’s since evolved into something of a strange laboratory for wine, alcohol, and plants – in all of their possible combinations.
Vermouth, of course, but also amaro, fruit eau de vie, table wines, grappa, and Piquette. I take as my guiding principles: organic agriculture, a strong sense of community, and a long view of history. On this journey, there are friends that have lent their strength and wisdom; winemakers, distillers, chefs, perfumers, botanists, and foragers. To them, I owe a debt of gratitude.
There is so much more to say, but I want to tell you what you can expect: things will change from year to year. From weather to aesthetic decisions. Some tastes you might find comforting — others challenging. I want this project to be a framework in which I grow and explore, and hopefully have folks like yourself join on the adventure. Thanks for coming along.
The Side Project: Conspiracy of Equals • C.O.E.
This is a side project with my good friend and fellow winemaker, Esteechu Dunatte. It was serendipitous coming together while we were working shoulder-to-shoulder in the same cellar. On one day, we each brought in the same fruit from the same grower — and much less of it than we’d hoped for. We decided to combine our lots and make a wine that was ours equally. I think both of us were slightly skeptical at first. Partnerships between highly opinionated folks can be problematic. But we just kept on tasting things the same way, wanting to make the same decisions during the process, and blending the same way. Hive-mind in the best possible sense. So we kept at it.
So what are these wines like? They’re made of fruit from all over northern California. Emphasis is placed on pleasure and drinkability. Lots of skin contact for whites, minimal extraction for reds, and a serious love for aromatic varieties. More pretty than powerful, with the warmth of California sunshine. We always work with organically produced fruit, ferment spontaneously, and never touch additives, including sulfur. Zero-zero 24/7.