Shaunt Oungoulian & Diego Roig
Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
For a small-scale producer, making an organically farmed Cabernet Sauvignon and then releasing it for $25 is the wine equivalent to building the Mars Rover and then sticking the landing. To pull it off, Diego and Shaunt personally farmed all seven vineyards (six across Sonoma County and one way out in the Sierra Foothills). Farming, after all, is what makes Les Lunes Les Lunes: by leasing vineyards rather than buying grapes, the winery has achieved the unachievable: the freedom and profitability of scale without the scale. For the rest of us, this means honest, delicious wines we can actually afford (yipee!). To produce the 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon — which includes 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc — the fruit from each vineyard was fermented and aged separately. But first, all the lots were destemmed, followed by long, cool macerations (boosting structure and complexity). Two of the lots were fermented as rosés, adding freshness to the final blend. Aging occurred in neutral oak barrels and Flextanks (large polyethylene containers). After blending, the finished wine was bottled sans fining or filtration. 15 ppm S02. 824 cases produced. 12.5% abv.
Want to glimpse the future of American wine? Ditch the Silverado Trail and convince your Uber driver to take you over the Benicia–Martinez Bridge into the rolling, oak-covered hills of Orinda. Your destination is Shaunt’s basement — ok, Shaunt’s parent’s basement — home to Les Lunes. Co-founded in 2014 by Oungoulian (a Berkeley-trained chemist) and Diego Roig (whose family tree includes both California winemakers and Spanish matadors), Les Lunes marks an important shift in the evolution of natural wine in America — away from the splashy, easy-to-replicate styles of the twenty-teens, towards more durable manifestations of purpose and place. Yes, Les Lunes will outlive even your Instagram account. But before you go barging in, we should probably mention that no one will be home (Shaunt and Diego rarely are). But don’t fret — their absence is precisely the reason the wines are as good as they are. Shall we explain? We shall. Thanks to America’s screwy wine economics, few producers can afford to own vineyards. So what else to do but buy fruit from those who can? Known as the negociant model, it’s safe to say that this is how your favorite wines get made. That is, except for Les Lunes. Dead set on total control from the jump, Shaunt and Diego found an alternative in the form of the long-term lease agreement. For most of us, the phrase “long-term lease agreement” is almost too boring to look at, calling to mind skimmed over apartment contracts and cars we’ll drive but never own. But for Shaunt and Diego it symbolized creative control and limitless freedom — not to mention decades of uninterrupted manual labor. Yes, Shaunt and Diego became farmers — busy ones — responsible for roughly 20 acres of organic vineyards across Napa and Sonoma. And they wouldn’t have had it any other way. So what does this all mean? Well, if you’re as interested as we are in the relationship between good farming and delicious wine — and you want to support people who are investing in practical solutions to wine’s biggest social and environmental challenges — Les Lunes is where you should begin.