Fog Monster

California, california USA

A chance encounter with an incredible site led to an exciting project in California for two of South Africa’s most-acclaimed winemakers, Andrea and Chris Mullineux. Andrea grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and studied winemaking at UC Davis, working several vintages in Napa and Europe, before settling in The Swartland with Chris. During one of the pair’s regular trips to California, a friend tipped them off about a unique parcel of old vines. In their own words – once they saw the vineyard – “How could we say no!”. Fog Monster was established in 2012 and, since then, Andrea and Chris have continued to make single vineyard wines from parcels that excite and intrigue them.

They work with a select group of growers, who follow sustainable farming practices, with vineyards located in the Sierra Foothills of El Dorado County, and Sonoma County. The name Fog Monster is inspired by the influence of the Pacific Ocean fog on California’s coastal vineyards. Although California has a warm climate with long sunlight hours, the ocean fog – which blankets the vineyards and often lingers long into the afternoon – moderates temperatures and sunlight intensity. This produces wines with both plush fruit concentration and refreshing aromatics.

The Mullineux winemaking philosophy is consciously ‘hands-off’ to maintain the purest vineyard expression. Both wines were 50% whole-bunch fermented with one pigéage a day, to enable lifted aromatics and a gentle extraction of tannins, and then aged for around 12 months in 225-litre neutral oak barrels.

The Petite Sirah is sourced from Ambrosia Vineyard, situated on the mid-slopes of the Sierra Foothills. Planted on yellow slate soils, these low-yielding vines produce small berries with profound concentration. The wine is powerful and textured with layers of dark fruit, allspice, and fine-grained tannins, tempered by a remarkably fresh finish. The Bedrock Red is an heirloom field blend of 27 varieties, including Zinfandel, Carignan, and Mataro, sourced from the eponymous single vineyard planted in 1888. These exceptionally old vines are planted on deep alluvial riverbed soils which produce a particularly dense and complex wine with a core of plush red berry fruit, citrus peel and clove spice, structured by tightly knit tannins and a signature freshness.

 

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