In their own words, Shaunt Oungoulian and Diego Roig – the braintrust behind Populis Winery out of Mendocino, California – put it like this: “Why Populis? Because it’s all about you, our friends and allies, our brothers and sisters who want to drink delicious, honest wine. There is not enough wine with soul that we can afford to drink…and we like to drink!” Cheers to that. These guys are awesomely committed winemakers – their operational facility quite literally a basement in a family home – who want to not only showcase their own viticulture/oenology, but to pay homage to the great multigenerational growers of some of the historically organic vineyards of Mendocino County. In order to do this, they purchase grapes from such estates for their Populis imprint (their other imprint, “Les Lunes” is wine made from grapes cultivated on their own vineyards farther north) which is defined in style as the more relatable, fun, generous wines that fit something closer to a vin de soif approach. The formula, they let you know (belying the day in-day out rigor of making something this hands-off) is old vines+inimitable terroir+no tomfoolery = straight up fermented juice. And man is it good.
Vinification: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat. Grapes are hand-harvested, followed by a direct press of the Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc and a destemming of the Muscat. The juice then undergoes a separate, 10-day maceration in neutral oak using indigenous yeasts, and is blended and left to rest for seven months sur lie. Bottled unfined, unfiltered with no SO2.
Tasting: Slightly cloudy in the glass and medium bodied. Citrusy on the nose. Tastes like white Haribo gummy bears, greek yogurt and sweet Mandarin oranges squeezed with tart lemon juice.