The 2016 Smithereens is a balanced, medium-bodied expression of a blend, with just the right amount of structure, acid, and fruit. The wine offers aromas of lemon peel, kumquat, and citrus leaf, coupled with subtle notes of nectarine, white flowers, and wet concrete. The wine starts out broad and finishes with focus and persistence on the palate.
We start out with several lots, some co-fermented, from nine vineyards scattered around unique microclimates within El Dorado, including our two estate sites. We ferment with native yeasts in a combination of stainless steel barrels and neutral French oak. There is a single barrel of skin contact Grenache Blanc to add texture and structure. The wine rests on its gross lees until being blended together at bottling after 9 months in barrel.
This Rhone inspired producer in the Sierra Foothills has a great story that there is not space for here. Suffice to say that the current generation of Skinners discovered that their great, great, great, great grandfather, James Skinner, had established a winery and vineyards here during the Gold Rush and were sufficiently inspired to buy the land back and set up the winery once more, 150 years later. In the 1860s James Skinner had planted the popular grapes of the time that grew well in his region. This included Mission, Zinfandel, and several southern french varieties such as Grenache, Carignan and the now-obscure Petit Bouschet. These are the varieties that Mike and Carey Skinner have planted once again, and they are ideally suited to the climate, topography and geology. The Skinners landed a coup in persuading rising star Chris Pittenger to join them as winemaker (ex-Marcasssin, Williams Selyem etc.). He has bought into the Skinners' enthusiasm and conviction that this is area, with its mountain soils and nuanced microclimates is one in which Rhone varieties can thrive. Skinner's vineyards are located at two separate sites in El Dorado County. Stoney Creek Vineyard is at the winery in Fairplay, on a saddleback ridgeline at 2,700 feet (800m+). The high altitude means that temperatures are around 2-5 degrees cooler than other foothills regions. The White Oak vineyard is in Rescue adjacent to the original property. At 1,400 feet elevation, its soils are alluvial in nature, a result of sediment and soil coming down from the Sierra. These Skinner wines combine ripe fruit with freshness and (dare we say it) minerality with very moderate alcohols and fine balance, really making the most of the Rhone varieties they have chosen to focus on.