This year marks the first return of Tongue ‘n Cheek since 2015. But the Tongue ‘n Cheek has returned with a twist. It’s grown up, and with the release of the 2018 vintage, it is now entirely Estate grown. The Tongue ‘n Cheek and The Plow are a matched set. The Plow is a little more concentrated, while the Tongue ‘n Cheek is a bit more refined and elegant. The contrast with the texture and tannins between Tongue ‘n Cheek and The Plow preserves the same difference that the first vintage enjoyed, that of a contrast between a wine of some whole cluster (The Plow) and that which is completely destemmed (Tongue ‘n Cheek). It is interesting to see how people respond to tasting these two wines side by side, because when they don’t know which wine is which, they often think the whole cluster will be elegant, when it isn’t, and the destemmed will be short lived or lighter, when it can be more assertive at an earlier age.
Overall extreme drought conditions shaped the vintage by stressing the vines and lowering the amount of juice in each berry, concentrating flavors. Such conditions require a light touch and few punch downs. Though we do not hope for such growing conditions, as long as temperatures are moderate, the drought can make for beautifully intense wines. Because the tiny-berried Calera clone is already quite intense and structured, we married it with Pommard Clone to round out the mid-palate and make for more supple texture. The 2018 Tongue 'n Cheek is an equal blend of the fruity Pommard and intense Calera clone, all destemmed. The two clones balance each other out and create an elegance that is ageworthy.
There is no whole cluster in the cuvée, like the original vintage of Tongue ‘n Cheek. All fruit is sorted, destemmed with only whole berries selected to go into the fermenters. The wine is aged for a year in French oak barriques, of which 20% are new.
Food Pairing Notes
The 2018 Tongue ‘n Cheek (or “TnC” as we refer to it at the winery) is bold and can go well with a variety of grilled meats from sausages to lamb or beef steak. It would also pair nicely with a variety of aged goat cheeses, 18-month Gouda, Tomme de Savoye, Comté, old farmhouse Cheddar from the UK, Tillamook Reserve, Kelly’s and many other aged cow’s milk cheeses. I also recommend this wine with roast chicken with chanterelles or hedgehog mushrooms, pan-roasted duck breast coated in cardamom, lamb loin with Provençale herbs, steak, or pork tenderloin.