Yeah, I know, that is a corny title, but I really do love this Sparkling wine and it is produced from Lichen Estate in Boonville, CA, so where else could I go with the title? So how did I come across this beauty of a sparkling? It’s an interesting story [well, at least to me.] I was on twitter one evening, and Lichen Estate posted a picture of their bottle. Being the biology buffoon that I am, I immediately zoned in on their post. See, I love Lichen. I know, it’s weird. But I honestly think it is one of the coolest organisms (symbiotic) on the face of the earth. When Mike and I go hiking, he gets annoyed at me, because I will stop and take pictures of lichen.
What is Lichen?
I’m so glad you asked. [Yeah, I know you really didn’t, but if you read my blog, you know science is my thing]. Lichen is two organisms living together in a symbiotic relationship. [they help each other out] It consists of a fungus that is in a committed relationship with either a cyanobacteria or an algae and because they live together, they take on a life that is like neither entity on its own. Come on! How cool is that?! How do they live together? That’s a great question. See, the fungus is the primary entity BUT they are unable to make their own food since they are usually decomposers. Enter the algae or cyanobacteria. These guys are capable of making food through photosynthesis. [I totally would love to go into photosynthesis with you, but that would take a heck of a lot more time than I think people would like, so if you are interested, check out this video] They can make the food, but they have problems with staying in one place, they don’t have roots. The fungus provides the “housing” while the algae or cyanobacteria provide the “bacon.”
Alright, so you are still thinking, “What the heck, I don’t think that is so exciting?” Well, let me continue about how cool lichen is. They grow where other organisms can’t. They are known as pioneers because they can grow on bare rocks, in the desert sand, on dead wood or on animal bones. Hell, they can live on bark and rusty metal! Think about what it takes to grow on rust! Most lichens grow very, very slowly, often less than a millimeter per year, and some lichens are thought to be among the oldest living things on Earth.These guys are special, so special that they are indicators of air pollution. If you see a green lichen, the air quality is good, but a white lichen means that there is pollution in the environment. [come on, I know you are starting to dig lichen now!]
Lichen Estate is in the center of the Anderson Valley. They have 203 acres and have planted 7 acres of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris and according to their website they strive for elegance, focus, purity, structure, and balance in all our wines. Their story begins in 2000, when they purchased a sheep ranch that had oaks, madrones and creeks. They noticed that during the winter months, although the oaks lost their leaves, the beautiful lichen remained. They state:
Lichen is everywhere, from the Yorkville Higlands to the Mendocino Coast. We named our farm “Lichen” in honor of its beauty and grace.
Admittedly, they came on my radar because of their name, but once I looked at their website, I became a fan for another reason. They believe in leaving a better land for the next generation. They are organic and foster biological diversity. Instead of planting the whole property, they have a herd of sheep and maintain a wilderness corridor. Bears can be seen scouring their pomace composts and if you listen, you can hear the tree frogs sing and the crickets scratch their mating calls along their hind legs [yep, more biology for you- crickets use their hind legs like violins to make that sound.] There are honeybees zooming around and of course all that beautiful lichen! They take a lesson from the lichen and as farmers they live in a symbiotic relationship with nature.
Wow! First words that come to mind when I tasted this sparkling wine. I really didn’t know what to expect for two reasons. One, I never heard of Lichen Estate [not that that means very much] and two it was kind of equivalent to picking a wine by the label. [which doesn’t always work out well] As I poured this sparkling the first thing I noticed was the color. What a beautiful pineapple color. On the nose we were greeted immediately with roasted nuts, butterscotch and toast. Upon a second sniff, citrus followed. On the palate these exquisite tiny bubbles created a wonderful creaminess on my tongue. Flavors of citrus, green apple, toasted bread and yeast. Yeast is present, but not in the forefront like typical Champagnes. The yeast is present almost symbiotically with the green apple [yeah, I went there, you should have expected that] At the very end there is just a hint of sweetness that carries the finish.
Having never tasted this sparkling before, Mike and I decided to go with a mild dish. Mike made a Frittata Primavera. This dish was light and had a variety of flavors including browned sautéed vegetables. We were confident that this would not overpower the wine and allow it to speak for itself. We were right. The food complimented the sparkling wine without any interference of flavors.
This sparkling uses only Coeur de Cuvée, which translates to “the heart of the first pressing.” It is made from the highest quality portion of the juice from the middle of the press. It excludes the first and last portions and provides for a well-balanced fruit focused, higher acidity wine. So do yourself a favor and check out Lichen Estate and grab yourself a bottle of this Blanc de Gris. I think you find yourself in a wonderful relationship.
Disclosure: I received this wine from Lichen Estate. I was not required to write a positive post and all opinions are my own.