Flora & Fauna Red 2022, Idlewild

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Flora and Fauna loosely means the collection of plant and animal life of a certain epoch. In this version, it is the collection of varietals from the cellar that make up the blend for the year. The 2022 is based in Barbera that is blended with Dolcetto, Freisa, Nebbiolo, and Grignolino to achieve the balance desired from this Piedmontese inspired blend. The fruit comes from Fox Hill Vineyard, Lost Hills Ranch, and Rancho Coda. Fox Hill lends depth, Lost Hills balances with vibrancy and bright aromatics, and Rancho Coda gives a core of fresh fruit and spice. In the end, Mendocino is on display with high and low tones and a very pleasant rusticity while Russian River Valley fills in the gaps to make the wine cohesive.

In Italy, the house wine is often light, fresh, and firmly structured so as to pair beautifully next to a wide range of foods, and that is the inspiration for this blend. The 2022 is both deep and savory while also being light and fresh. Dark cherry, fresh soil, dried herbs, violets, and graphite are highlights of the aromas. The mouthfeel is a joyful interplay of brightness with just enough chewy bass notes before the seriousness kicks in with a firm acid and tannin balance on the finish.

Pairing Ideas
This wine was blended to be a food wine! A brighter red, it can be served with pasta and pizza, but also a fleshy salmon. Serve slightly chilled with some savory cheese on a summer day!

Terroir
A blend from three vineyard sites, with fractured sandstone with schist veins. Well-drained soils with gravel, quartz and sandstone with thin layers of sandy clay loam.

Vinification

  • Whole cluster
  • Carbonic maceration starts the fermentation off
  • Early pressing for the tannic structure of short maturation
  • 4 months in neutral oak

About the Winery

Sam Bilbro grew up hanging out in a winery converted from an old cow barn, walking vineyards, and tasting blends with his dad. Later, while in the restaurant industry, he was exposed to wines from across the globe and was especially struck by the wines of Italy’s Piedmont.

Learning natural systems and the world of wine in general was his route to making wine and starting Idlewild. Idlewild has a relatively concise aim within a broad context: to produce wines of exceptional balance and beauty. It is a journey to pursue Italy’s Piedmont in the elevated hills of Mendocino County, and to find the sides of these varieties that are intriguing, delicious, and haunting.

Each wine is unique and treated as such, though the common thread is balancing depth and seriousness with vibrancy and joy. Emphasis is on the vineyard followed by minimalist winemaking techniques. While not dogmatic in practice, an honest and sustainable approach is fundamental in making wines of purity. Idlewild focuses primarily on single-varietal wines made from Piemontese grapes, but every year, Sam creates two “cellar blends” and bottles those wines as the Flora & Fauna Red and White wines. Think of these wines as a delicious casserole made from pristine ingredients, where the end result may just be greater than the sum of its parts!
Idlewild has a few homes: a lonely rolling ridge line in the Yorkville Highlands, a strip of bench-land in Mendocino county, a crown vineyard high above the Russian River Valley, a funky warehouse turned simple winery, and a tasting room just off the plaza in Healdsburg, CA.

Lost Hills Ranch, their home vineyard, sits in the elevated hills of the Yorkville Highlands in southwest Mendocino. The schist veined sandstone is planted to 15 year old Arneis, Cortese, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo. Located in Central Mendocino County, Fox Hill Vineyard is managed by Idlewild. The rocky elevated slopes are planted to 20-30 year old Arneis, Cortese, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo. Rancho Coda, also managed by Idlewild, sits high above the middle reach of the Russian River Valley. The steep slopes and fractured sandstone and quartz are planted to over 40 different varietals.