Clothing Optional Wine Co's Mind Bending Wines
For those who pride themselves on being on the Zeitgeist of California wines, Dirty and Rowdy Wine Company is no stranger.
Hardy Wallace, his wife Kate Graham, and Atlanta based husband and wife, Matt and Amy Richardson are the team behind this singular winery. Hardy’s as winemaker has instincts and techniques that are considered outlandish in the conservitive confines of the Napa Valley.
There is no recipe. Every year they find consciously farmed vineyards, nail down picking decisions as they go and basically stay out of the way of the wine as much as possible. Not hamstrung by dogma or tradition, they try to produce wine as naturally as possible that speaks to the conditions and places where they are grown.
It all started when Hardy moved to California and began working with the iconic Cathy Corison in Napa Valley. Then, in 2010, Hardy teamed up with Matt, his old friend from the ATL and founded Dirty & Rowdy.
Dirty & Rrowdy took on the world with their focus on working with southern French grape varieties, specifically Sémillon and Mourvèdre. When Southern French winemakers come to the shop, they always ask if we can get some Dirty & Rowdy Mourvedre for them--which is often rather difficult considering how in demand they are.
While still under the Dirty and Rowdy umbrella, Clothing Optional Wine Company set out to do something a little differently.
While still under the Dirty and Rowdy wines are made from single varieties, the wines from Clothing Optional are blends from two old vineyards with unique and enviable soils consisting of limestone, granite and volcanic stones.
Clothing Optional is Hardy pushing the boundaries of natural wine. Each wine spends several years in barrel and bottle before release. No So2 is ever added and the wines are alive and like Hardy himself exuberantly expressive.
It's safe to say that there is nothing else that I've tasted quite like these. If I have to make a comparison I would say they live somewhere between Radikon and Gabrio Bini. To Hardy, they are the thru-line between the land, the drinker and whatever may lie beyond.
All Dirty and Rowdy wines are rare creatures; these are the rarest of them all. These esoteric wines are unicorns and we are lucky to have been able to snatch up the few bottles that we received.
I can't think of a better place to enjoy a bottle than in a hot spring fed rock hewn tub along the pacific coast in the wee hours of the morning in communion with the star and sea, perched over the stone cliffs of the Pacific with only what you were born with. But alas, no bottles allowed at the Esalen Institute.
Clothing Optional Wine Co., Old Vine Orange Wine, Enz Vineyard, 2018
Extended maceration of Muscat, Chenin Blanc and Roussanne. 28 months in barrel and six months in bottle this is spicy, salty, tannic, with layers of fruit and different expressions of minerality. This complex, mind bending wine will continue to age and develop for years to come. Whenever you open it make sure you decant it for a good amount of time.
Clothing Optional Wine Co. (Dirty & Rowdy) San Benito County "Red" Wine 2017
The vines are well over a hundred years old. Three quarters of this is a white field blend; the rest is Mourvedre and Mission. All get extended skin maceration. One year in barrel and two in bottle, this smells like hiking through the high California desert in the cool morning air.. Sage and straw, acid, rocks, prickly pear, hibiscus & guava. Age worthy but if you drink it soon make sure you decant for at least an hour or preferably two.