“Free run juice” is the initial juice that drains from the grapes when they are crushed but before they are pressed. My limited understanding is that this juice can theoretically produce wines of higher quality than from grapes that have been pressed, due to reduced exposure to the skins and the chemicals released by the skins when pressed.
Free Run Juice LLC [www.freerunjuice.com] is a wine consulting company dedicated to offering wines of high quality and small production to select restaurants and wine bars. With a line-up that includes wineries such as Robert Foley and Pride, they distribute wines that are of great interest to me, as I am also very focused on small artisan producers.
And when I heard that Mike Fraschilla, friend of (and occasional contributor to) Eve’s Wine 101 had become associated with Free Run Juice, I jumped at the chance to taste through some of his portfolio with the owners of one of our local wine bars.
We tasted though several wines that day and these were my favorites. The tasting notes are provided by Mike F. unless otherwise indicated.
2011 Ca Del Sarto Friuli (Pinot Grigio) — Wonderful aromatics and great body for value Pinot Grigio.
2011 Mariposa “Paso Robles” Albarino — Super aromatics, lime and gooseberry, clean minerality, good acid and great finish.
2011 Robert Foley “Napa Valley” Pinot Blanc – [see my comment below]
2010 Cur Montage “Monterey County” Chardonnay — Well liked by all, great balance, good finish.
2009 Frostwatch “Bennett Valley Sonoma Co” Chardonnay — Loved by all – best Chard of night!
2010 Sextant Zinfandel Central Coast — Really well liked Zin. Super big red berry fruit without being a “dessert or port-like” wine!
2009 Dancing Lady “Old Vine Alexander Valley” Zinfandel — Big surprise winner. An Old Vine Zin with fruit depth & power!
2010 Robert Foley Griffin Napa Valley — The blend everyone liked.
2010 Andrew Lane “Napa Valley” Cabernet — Well liked as great value Cab from Napa.
My own comments:
I thought the Frostwatch was one of the best Chardonnays that I’d had in a while. Very classic style, but not overpowering with oak.
The Sextant Zin was a surprise to me. Definitely in the everyday wine category but with lots and lots of tasty fruit.
The Dancing Lady Zinfandel was excellent, from a winery I was not previously familiar with.
Saving the best for last…
Robert Foley Vineyards makes outstanding wines. Many know him as the original winemaker at Pride Mountain, as well as Paloma and Switchback Ridge. I’ve been a fan of their Petite Sirahs for some time, and the Griffin is a more approachable and affordable red blend, but definitely in that rich Foley style. And the Pinot Blanc really surprised me, being one of the more interesting and complex PB’s that I’ve had to date.
Keep an eye open for these wines, or anything in the Free Run portfolio. But remember, you won’t find them on retail shelves. Check with your favorite restaurants and wine bars, and if they don’t have them, tell them to call or text our friend Mike at (805) 217-4518.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who puts up with him. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting tasting rooms and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, Michael had the amazing good fortune to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. At the same time, in his day job he provides outsourced controller services to companies that do not need a full-time controller. One day, he hopes to be able to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. (2013 Update: Eve and Michael announced Eve Wine 101 Consulting. Info is here: http://evewine101.com/press-releases/)