noun: jolie laide; plural noun: jolies laides
a woman whose face is attractive despite having ugly features.
Origin French, from jolie ‘pretty’ and laide ‘ugly,’ feminine adjectives.
In fairness to the French term, Pretty and Ugly allows an artist much lee-way in the pursuit of greatness. Scott Schultz is an artistic wine-maker. He makes less than 500 cases of his own label each year. They are ‘unconventionally beautiful’ wines and they are some of the most sought after wines in California. Up there with the likes of Manfred Krankl and Togni. Fortunately, at least for now, not up there in the stratospheric price realm of his counterparts.
His résumé includes leading the wine program at Thomas Keller’s famed Bouchon restaurant. Working at Rhyme Cellars and Arnot-Roberts, and because 500 cases barely puts a loaf of bread on your table, he makes the wines at Wind Gap during the day. His artistic bent is portrayed on his labels. Like Mouton Rothschild he celebrates each different vintage with a different artist. Sometimes line drawings of nude women, other times botanical etchings of butterflies. The present vintage that we have celebrates the Dali-like artistry of Alma Haser – you need to visit her site to really appreciate what this 28 year old girl is doing…mind-blowing. Her site: http://www.haser.org/about/
Back to Scott. I met him recently in NYC where for the first time I was able to taste through four of his wines. My notes went something like this: “Delic. OMG. WOW. Scary lobster. Only 6 f’ing bottles??” More accurately, I was utterly wooed by the wines. I had heard of them but I had never seen them and had never tasted them. To do so in his presence some may assimilate was like taking communion with the Pope.
The first wine was the Melon de Bourgogne from Rodnick Farm. “Formerly known as Antle Vineyard, this is a dramatic high desert site in the Gabilan Mountains neighboring Pinnacles National Park. South facing slope, 1800 ft elevation overlooking Monterey with moderating coastal influence. Situated just beneath an extinct volcano with decomposed granite and limestone soils. Picked early to preserve natural acidity, whole cluster pressed to concrete eggs where it underwent spontaneous fermentation and subsequent 6 month sur lie elevage.” My notes? Profound, orange style. Ageless and intoxicating. Special.
Rorick Heritage Vineyard “Pinot Gris”. The hallmark of this dramatic schist and limestone vineyard at the ascend of the Sierras is a wine with serious cut and drive. Picked early to preserve acidity (which it has in spades) and crushed by foot for a 3 day whole cluster cold soak which adds phenolic texture while lending a beautiful rosé Champagne like color. Fermented and aged in a combination of stainless and neutral oak then aged all in barrique. This wine is pure stone and earth. Wildly perfumed of charentias melon, stone fruit, bergamot and kaffir lime leaf with ripper acidity. My notes? Scary lobster – mystical, nuanced, deliberately enticing. A Siren from the vineyard of Eden.
Barsotti Vineyard Gamay. Grown at high elevation in the beautiful red granitic soils of the Sierra Foothills. Picked in two separate passes, one early and one a bit later makes for a wine a bit riper and fleshed out than in years passed. The clusters are left whole and started by carbonic maceration, which lends its distinctive high tone appeal but eventually crushed by foot and finished whole cluster for skin contact and extraction. Pressed to neutral barrique for a short 6 month elevage and bottled young to preserve delicate aromatics. Light, fresh and utterly charming. Wild strawberry and summer herbs with cranberry tartness. My notes? Sweet Jesus. And I only get 6 f’ing bottles?
There was a rosé, but my allocation didn’t stretch to that wine. In all honesty, my allocation was a whopping zero. But becoming BFF instantly with Scott and a come hither look at the regional sales manager for the wines paid off. I received 2 cases of the Jolie Laide Melon de Bourgonge, six bottles of the Barsotti Gamay and 3 bottles of the Trousseau Pinot Gris. Unfortunately, before I even wrote this piece some of the bottles were snapped up…by my colleagues. We do have some left, but I urge you to pay and reserve them now because within a few short hours these wines will be gone and who knows if I’ll receive any of the next vintage wines.
I would add that whilst Jolie-Laide is now definitely in the ranks of California Cult wines, these are wines to be drunk. Yes, they will last for a very long time (maybe not the Gamay), but even Scott is the first to say – drink them now. They are so hedonistic why take the chance that they may not be in a few years time?
Subjest to availability I have the following wines:
Jolie-Laide Rorick Vineyard Pinot Gris: $42.00
Jolie-Laide Gamay Noir, Barsotti Vineyard: $41.00
Jolie-Laide Melon de Bourgogne: $35.00