Inconnu, "No Gods No Masters" Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Laura Brennan Bissell, the founder of Inconnu, lives in the Columbia Gorge, straddling the Columbia river overlapping Oregon and Washington state, where she farms organic vineyards spread across her 65-acre estate. Cows, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens roam freely across the integrated, enclosed farm and working winery.
Prior to settling in the Gorge, however, she’d already been making wine under the Inconnu label for some years, sourcing high-quality fruit from select sites across California.
Perusing a typical mass-market bottle shop or grocery store, you’ll encounter LOTS of middling, industrially-made wine under the generic “California” appellation moniker; think “Two-Buck Chuck,” etc. These wines are usually conventionally farmed using herbicides, underpaid migrant labor, machine harvested, and overly manipulated in the winery. When production is measured in the hundred-thousands or millions, there’s a lot of shenanigans going on in the winery to make every bottle taste the same and to be so cheap.
With that in mind, this California-specified Cab Sauv is a jewel in the rough. It’s sourced from premier sites from Clarksburg in the Sacramento delta, Carneros, and Russian River, from sites that were picked before the notorious 2019 wildfires or far enough away from them to be immune from the smoke-taint issues plaguing so many bottles from this star-crossed vintage. Most quality northern-Cali producers simply didn't make wine in 2019.
This lively bottling is a fresh-cherry-inflected, bright and fun Cab that’s supremely unique. Red and blue fruits emerge from the glass, with lip smacking acidity and medium-bodied, fresh tannins and a hint of green peppercorn, mocha, blueberry, and red flowers. Low-abv and bright red fruits/flowers distinguish this wine from its heavier, more oak-laden Cali counterparts. If you like fun, lighter-style reds then this is the wine for you.
Her wines are light on their feet and full of character. The name is a homage to the famous slogan of the same name, evoking the centuries-old theme of bucking the system and rejecting the typical California wine hierarchy. In her words, the wine “moves freely through the food chain of pairability and preference.”