Get the Dirt from Neeta Mittal of LXV Wines

8 Oct

What is probably the first wine launched by an Indian couple on the California Central Coast, LXV Wine has emerged from the teaming up of two entrepreneurial geniuses – those of Kunal and Neeta Mittal. And the talented iconoclastic winemaker Amy Butler. The style of the wine is at once classic and contemporary, showcasing the uniqueness of Paso Robles AVA.  Terroir is, of course, elemental to such a project. The Mittals acquired a wine property on the coveted Willow Creek Road on Westside Paso Robles because the rare soil and climate extremes, perfect for fostering intense varietal characteristics in the grapes, characterize this terroir.  The team is on a phased approach to develop a tasting room, vineyard and, eventually, a state of the art winery.

Every release of LXV presents a unique blend, showcased by an art of KamaSutra. The anchor of each label is the portrait of an artist and their philosophy on art and sensuality. The Mittals’ approach re-frames the entire wine experience as a novel Indian series of events that sequentially awaken the full range of senses.

The first two releases, Rising Tempo (Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo) and Crimson Jewel (Sangiovese, Petite Sirah)  won medals at the SF Chronicle tasting ($35+ category, 5500 submissions) and at San Diego International.

1. What was your first vintage year? 2010

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? 250

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? Via email/Phone? Yes / Fri-Sun 1PM to 8PM. Tue-Thu: By appointment only.

4. If not you, who is your winemaker? Amy Butler

5. How did you get your start in the winemaking business? We knew we wanted to create a wine experience that is rooted in our Indian heritage and expresses itself in the best wine we can make. What really gave us the start was finding our winemaker, Amy Butler. We were able to lay down solid roots to our endeavor.

6. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? I think Chateau Montalena. Its story (yes, Angelenos gets their education from the silver screen) grabbed my imagination of what could be. Years later, when I actually had a bottle, I could feel the passion of the owner imbibed in decades ago!

7. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? Why? Mostly Rhone. But my favorite is Viognier. It holds strong as a single varietal, yet, even in fractions, can make a Syrah stand tall. It lends itself to the vision of a winemaker – neutral, oak, stainless steel, ML for the daring ones, on-skin for the artisans. Viognier is like a beautiful canvas – then your idiosyncrasies come into play.

8. What vineyards do you source from? Why? If estate, why did you choose the spot you’re in? Small vineyards that produce very high quality fruit, currently all from the Westside of Paso Robles. Our property is right in between the holy trinity of Paso – Saxum, Linne Calodo and Denner. It is still a virgin land, but has 9 acres that promise a great fruit in years to come.

9. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? Neutral or New (French + Hungarian), depending on the wine.

10. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? Paso Robles reminds me of India… maybe because of the relationship people have with the earth and with each other. There is an intimacy in the ecosystem in Paso. And that expresses itself in the grapes, in the winemaking, and ultimately in the wines.

11. What’s the story behind your name/label? LXV Wine is inspired by the 64 arts of KamaSutra. The wine pays homage to one of the most ancient philosophies of India that invokes all the senses. Every label pays homage to an art and to an artist. And the brand is backed by an artisanal wine that is the 65th Sutra – hence LXV.

12. We’re curious…do you even get tired of drinking your own wine? Is it considered bad form to dip into your inventory? I hope that day never comes! When you open a bottle of your own wine, it is not dipping into inventory – it is taking in the manifestation of your vision, dream, hard work and, in our case, the obstinate insistence for the best. You are not drinking just any bottle – you are sipping on your passion. And the thirst for that is endless!

13. Do you still have a day job? No, LXV is a singular passion and a full time commitment.

For more information about LXV Wines, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

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