There seems to be a growing trend among some California winemakers to go back to the more balanced styles of California’s formative years in the ‘60s and ‘70’s. During all this time Husch winery has been doing the same things and delivering clear stylistic examples that have been virtually unchanged the winery was founded in 1971. It claims to have been the first winery in the Anderson Valley. In 1979 the Oswald family purchased the estate and the third generation to run the winery are currently at the helm.
We bring them up not to praise their Cabernet or Chardonnay, which are still well made, traditional styles of their respective genre. But they are stars with two genres of wine that aren’t widely grown or even talked about in California. They are delicious examples of their breed and ridiculously cheap by today’s overblown California standards.
Part of the juice for the Husch Dry Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley 2017 comes from vines planted in 1968 and the cool climate here suits the varietal like few places in the Golden State. As such it is dry, crisp, delicate, spicy and ‘Gewurtzy’ without being overdone or clumsy. Sometimes Gewurz can be a little ‘dumpy’ on the finish, but not this one. Clean, bright, varietal with a subtle fruit and floral nose, delicate spice notes through the palate, and lift to the finish. Fire this up with a holiday ham or any number of lighter preparations of fish or fowl, particularly with an Asian slant.
If you think talking about Gewurz is off the wall, their Husch Chenin Blanc Mendocino County 2018 is a marvelous throwback (though it’s not a throwback to them as they have always made it this way). They started in 1984 and have been making one of the best in the state ever since. Yeah, Chenin has a bad rap thanks to a lot of mass produced examples when the genre was widely popular in the ’70s. But a well made Chenin still has a place at the table or on the porch. We think a touch of sweetness is necessary to offset the blazing acidity in this varietal, and this is a super refreshing display of orange, peach and melon flavors with a hint of ‘stone’ and great cut to the finish. It has the same kind of food versatility as their gewurz, and is, again, silly ‘cheap’.
Sure it’s ‘hipper’ to say you drink some semi-oxidized lab experiment under the banner of ‘natural wine’. But we’d rather have something direct, precise, and that does exactly what it should. There is precious little of these varietals made in California any more. But even though they are ‘old school’ they are riveting examples of a time gone by.