Forlorn Hope | Winery in Napa Valley founded in 2005 by Matthew Rorick. From 2005-2013 Rorick purchased grapes, which allowed him to work out which were the best places to buy. He says he found his passion for food and wine at his grandfather’s table. Rorick gained a degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis. He has worked on winemaking projects with wineries in New Zealand, South Africa, and Chile, as well as with Peter Michael Winery, Chasseur, and Miura Vineyards in California, among others. Rorick also makes guitars.

The name | ‘Forlorn Hope is taken from the Dutch ‘verloren hoop’ meaning lost troop, a name given to the band of soldiers who volunteered to lead the charge into enemy defences, their chances of survival slim but the rewards and glory huge. These wines produced from unknown appellations and uncommon varieties are Forlorn Hope’s headlong rush into the breach,’ says Doug Wregg of Caves de Pyrène. | ‘The phrase “forlorn hope” entered English from Dutch and German in the 17th century. It referred to a suicide mission or, more often, the ambitious and condemned men chosen to execute it. The most celebrated British forlorn hope was a band of aristocrats and ne’er-do-wells sent to scale the walls of the Spanish city of Badajoz in 1812. They carried sacks of hay to cushion their leap into its defensive ditch. Many were blown up by French mines the moment they landed,’ (‘Lexington, Storming Trump Tower’, The Economist, August 11th 2018, p37).

Estate vineyard | The Rorick Vineyard comprises 28.4 hectares (70 acres) in Calaveras County. The soils contains schist and limestone soils and is located at 610 metres (2,000 feet). Trousseau Noir is grown here, and was once widely grown in the Sierra Foothills pre-Prohibition but now quite rarely found. Chenin Blanc is also grown here, as is Verdelho (on RHV’s limestone), Picpoul, Pinot Gris and Grenache Noir.

Grape sources | 2017 80% from purchased fruit eg Carignan Noir from The Poor Ranch in Hopland, Mendocino County. The rest is estate grown (family) vines, including 28 hectares (70 acres) in Calaveras County.

Organic certification | 2017 Not for any estate vines.

Wines

Alvareho, Suspiro del Moro | 2014 Citric and fruity at the Real Wine Fair in Tobacco Dock 17-18th April 2016.

Gewurztraminer, Fraufreluches | 2012 From Russian River Valley. 2 weeks on skins. Some phenolics to give it structure. Not too fat at the Real Wine Fair in Tobacco Dock 17-18th April 2016.

Moresque | The Forlorn Hope “Moresque” wines are produced by fermenting white grapes in contact with their skins, and feature a different variety and technique with each vintage.

Pinot Gris, Dragone Ramato | This wine is made in the traditional Italian Ramato style, meaning fermented on skins until dry from Pinot Gris estate grown in the Rorick Vineyard, in the Sierra Foothills of Calaveras County.

Semillon, Nacre | 2011 Certified organic grapes from the Yount Mill vineyard, planted 1950s, owned by the Hoxsey family (who also own the Napa Wine Co). Alluvial valley floor, vigorous sandy loam. Picked at low brix. Fermented in stainless steel. 4 years in bottle pre-release. Nice acid at the Real Wine Fair in Tobacco Dock 17-18th April 2016.

Bibliography

Catalogue to the 2017 Real Wine Fair, Tobacco Dock, London 7 and 8 May 2017.