2004 Unti Vineyards Petit Frere Dry Creek Valley

Unti Vineyards Petit Frere Dry Creek Valley Sebastian Pochan, Unti Vineyards' itinerant French winemaker for the past four years, sees himself as "bridge [between] two polarized forces . . . the placid, tranquil patriarch and his fiery, hyperactive son." That'd be George and Mick Unti, respectively. Despite their many differences, George and Mick share one important trait in common, a deep, abiding, love of Rhone-style wines.

Unti VineyardsThis shared passion led Mick to persuade George into purchasing a 65-acre vineyard near Healdsburg in the Dry Creek Valley, an "ideal [spot] for growing classic Mediterranean red grape varieties," says Mick. "When farmed for quality, these varieties show our favorite attributes in wines from this appellation: expressive fruit, ripe tannins, and balanced acidity." Inspired by their Rhone Valley counterparts, the Untis employ techniques such as long pre-fermentation maceration, using open-top tanks and a basket press, and they age their wines in only French oak barrels and foudres (larger oak barrels used by Rhone vignerons) to highlight the aromatics and flavors derived from the vineyards. In other words, the Untis believe in Old World terroir winemaking techniques that showcase, rather than mask, their top-quality fruit.

This wine was made the same way Pochan and the Untis make all their wine, beginning with a 5-day pre-fermentation cold soak and indigenous yeast ferments in open-top tanks. It was pressed at dryness, then aged for 14 months in neutral oak barrels without fining or filtration.

Unti's "little brother" is just what you would expect for such a named wine--easy going, drinkable, forward, and downright pleasant. The bottle is meant for immediate drinking, just like a village Cotes-du-Rhone or Provence red. Although the 2004 gave the stuffing for ageworthiness, look to the other Unti wines for cellar fodder. Petit Frere needs to land on your dinner table right now.