Growing up in East Los Angeles, Curt Schalchlin didn’t try his first wine until he was in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he majored in Business. It was through his part-time job during school at Trader Joe’s that he discovered bottles from all over the world and his casual interest in wine tasting on the weekends turned into an eventual fascination and ultimately, his vocation. Later, Curt took the opportunity to help his friend McPrice Myers, who was starting his own winery. It was while working with McPrice and Russell From, of Herman Story and Barrel 27 wineries, that Curt first fell for Rhône varietals. A trip to the actual Rhône Valley in France and a conversation with Bernard Gripa—a third-generation grower in Saint Joseph—inspired Curt to start his own wine label and call it ‘Sans Liege’ which means “without allegiance” in French. In his words, Sans Liege is “a relentless search for independence. It is equally aligned with the freedoms of the New World and the heritage of the Rhône Valley but is careful not to hold too closely to either. Instead, I trust my intuition as to the microcosms of each vineyard site and vine to guide my work through each vintage.”
Groundwork is Curt’s second label focused on single varietal wines, all of which are sourced from select vineyards on the Central Coast. Groundwork is all about the fundamentals. Putting to use the empirical knowledge he has gained from making wine for Sans Liege, Curt seeks to bring his experience to a new set of wines that embrace the soul and simple living of the Rhône and other wine-producing areas of Europe.
This charming red is made from 100% Graciano—30% whole cluster and 70% destemmed. The must was vinified in open top 1.5-ton fermenters and given punch downs and pump overs as needed. The resulting wine was aged 10 months in 100% second-fill French barriques.
Striking ruby robe. Inviting aromas of red fruit: ripe cherry, rhubarb and pomegranate. The palate is soft and inviting, showing flavors of Bing cherry, plum, red currant and the tiniest suggestion of clove. The finish is long, juicy and fruit laced. Serve slightly chilled. 247 cases produced.