Category Archives: Wine

The Roots Of Gehricke Wines

 

Old Gehricke Road, near the town of Sonoma, is simply a strip of asphalt between two vineyards, but for kids like August Sebastiani, who grew up minutes away, it was a dusty, adventurous playground while growing up.

Sebastiani, now a fourth generation vintner in the iconic family, celebrates his childhood roots and continues the evolution of the

business as an negotiant through the introduction of Gehricke Wines, a new premium label that sources quality grapes closer to home.  Under his 3 Badge Beverage Corporation, August Sebastiani, son of Don and great-grandson of founder Samuele, has launched lines of premium spirits, craft beers and wines, but Gehricke is uniquely farmed and produced locally.

The sustainability of such an effort relies on expertise to manage the viticulture practices and envision the future in the vineyard through bottling.  Once vineyard partnerships were established, consulting winemaker Alex Beloz was hired to oversee the production and push the fruit to its greatest potential. Beloz brings years of experience producing wines in Sonoma County, many at MacRostie Winery.  Although all grapes are sourced within the county, he has his hands full dealing with very diverse terroir:  the cool west and warm east Russian River Valley, foggy Carneros, northeast Knight’s Valley and the varying microclimates of the Sonoma Coast appellation.

On a warm afternoon, under a tent next to Gehricke Road, surrounded by vineyards, we tasted the current releases paired with

August Sebastiani and Alex Beloz

lunch selections by Chef Ari Weiswasser, owner/chef of Glen Ellen Star, a restaurant that I frequent for their farm-to-table menu, especially the wood roasted vegetables.

Before lunch, Alex was pouring the single-vineyard, “copper label” reserve chardonnay from the known Chalk Hill Vineyard in Windsor.  Each of the diverse microclimates within the chardonnay blocks alone make the fruit desirable, especially for wines created in the Burgundian style

.

Paired with the 2016 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($32), the first course was a Lebanese fattoush salad with Dungeness crab and green garlic pull-apart rolls, one of Glen Ellen Star’s signature breads.  Aged 20 months in French oak, one-third new, the wine delivers expressive fruit flavors and, in Beloz’s style, has a fresh acidity, not overly oaked.

The 2015 Los Carneros Pinot Noir ($32) and 2016 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($35) releases were nicely paired with a wagyu beef rib eye bordelaise, spring vegetables and fava beans for our second course.  Sourced from three vineyards within the appellation, the pinot noir, with ratings in the nineties, balanced rich cherry with spice

Chalk Hill Estate Vineyard

flavors and was long on the finish.  Beloz prefers to keep a small percentage of the grapes whole cluster to augment, not dominate the character of the wine.

A first vintage, the 2016 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the Bavarian Lion Vineyard, north of Calistoga. The volcanic soils of the vineyard sit at a higher elevation, far enough inland not to be affected by the Pacific Ocean.  For complexity, Beloz adds malbec and a pinch of petite verdot to enhance flavor intensity and the rich mouthfeel. With 90+ratings from both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines, the Knights Valley Cab is an exceptional value. 

Pairing the 2015 Russian River Valley Zinfandel ($30) with a dessert plate of baked sourdough, toasted walnuts, blue cheese and preserves complimented its jammy fruit and spice flavors. The grapes are sourced from the Ponzo Vineyard in the warmer, northeast

Gehricke Los Corneros Pinot Noir

section of the Russian River appellation, near Healdsburg.  Beloz adds 10% petite sirah to enhance the dark fruit flavors and deepen the color.  

August Sebastiani understands the evolution of his family’s historic winery, from bulk wine to more premium labels. He also realizes that the wine industry has carefully groomed the palates of a young generation, eager for something good, new and original.  To that end, Sebastiani envisions a physical location in Sonoma for people to come and taste all of his brands.

In the short-term, he and Alex are focused on adding a petite sirah and building the Gehricke portfolio in a way the honors the memory of the land that neighbors that old road.

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Wines From “The Grade”

 

In his 1883 memoir, “The Silverado Squatters,” Robert Louis Stevenson describes traveling through north Napa Valley. Commenting on Mount Saint Helena, he said,”it looks down on much green, intricate country.  It feeds in the spring-time many splashing brooks.  Its naked peak sits four thousand five hundred feet above the sea; its sides are fringed with forest; and the soil, where it is bare, glows warm with cinnabar.”

In those days, traveling to desirable Lake County resorts required passage over the mountain via Calistoga and the Old Toll Road operated by businessman John Lawley. Arriving by coach, Stevenson wrote, “we entered the toll road, or to be more local, entered on “the grade”…”

The Silverado Squatters 

Tom Thornton

Stevenson’s book served as the inspiration and motivation for Tom Thornton and Brenda Mixson to purchase, in 1997, an old vineyard along “the grade” and re-plant it with fine cabernet sauvignon stock.

Wine is a second career for both Tom and Brenda, who actually met on a blind date.  Moving past their expertise in architecture and commercial real estate, they re-located from the East Coast to pursue a passion for cabernet sauvignon.

As newcomers to this prestigious area, Tom and Brenda have managed to attach themselves to a known star. After a time at Turley

Thomas Rivers Brown

Cellars, Thomas Rivers Brown worked for Shraeder Cellars where he developed a reputation for crafting fine cabernet sauvignon. Of note, his initial 2012 vintages of The Grade “Kingly Project” and “Winfield Estate” cabs received 99-pt and 97-pt ratings from Robert
Parker

The 12-acre Winfield Vineyard, using Tom’s middle name and part of a 32-acre ranch site, sits on a shelf above the old toll road

Winfield Vineyard

leading into Calistoga.  It is said to be at the confluence of the volcanic mountain soils and the alluvial valley floor. It is here that the team has created three distinct cabernets and a complex sauvignon blanc, all named from chapters of the “Silverado Squatters” memoir.

The tasting room sits among many other businesses on Lincoln Ave. in downtown Calistoga.  While located in a quaint old, well-appointed California cottage, it’s easy to walk by their stylish sign that blends in with many others.  However, there is a unique story here at The Grade Cellars and, for those seeking fine small-production cabernet sauvignon from an authentic boutique producer, a reservation to taste their current releases is recommended. The tasting fee is $35 which includes a cheese pairing;  everything is served in “The Library,”  a private space with comfortable chairs.

The Grade Cellars produces about 900 cases per vintage including 215 cases of The Grade 2016 “Sea Fog” Sauvignon Blanc ($28), the only white varietal. From volcanic soils, the “Sea Fog” is barrel-fermented in all neutral oak to produce melon, white peach flavors, balanced acidity and a mineral elements through the finish. Give the wine a few minutes in the glass to open up.

The Grade Winfield Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

The biggest yield at 530 cases is The Grade 2015 “Winfield Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon ($100), aged for 20 months. Perfumed aromas of licorice and baked fruit precede full-bodied, rich and integrated flavors of red fruit, berries and cassis. Again, I found a nice minerality throughout.  The 2014 vintage of this wine was named by California Wine and Wineries among the “top five exceptional wines of 2017.” 

With floral and chocolate aromas, The Grade 2014 “Kingly Project” Cabernet Sauvignon ($150) would make a nice Valentine’s Day gift for that special wine connoisseur. I found earthy, slate elements on the nose and palate with red stone fruit flavors, demonstrative and balanced.  Additional time in the bottle will soften the tannins and allow these complex flavors to integrate. 

The exceptional releases are at a price point that’s not for everyone. However, if you are serious about cabernet sauvignon, you owe it to yourselves to try The Grade wines on your next visit to Calistoga. For the enhanced experience, read “Silverado Squatters” and stop by the Winfield Vineyard along the old toll road before you taste.

   

  


Purple Heart Wines

 

 

Memorial Day is when we honor and remember veterans, especially those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  To honor and support veterans and to pay homage to patriarch Peter Mondavi, Sr., a WWII veteran, the Mondavi Family has challenged winemaker John Moynier to create a wine that salutes the Purple Heart medal, a high symbol of unselfishness among our military

Winemaker John Moynier

men and women.

We had the pleasure, years ago, of meeting Peter Mondavi Sr.,at his winery. I could sense Napa Valley history just by being in the same room with him.

The wine is the Purple Heart Red Wine Sonoma County 2015 ($19.99), a Left Bank-style Bordeaux blend with 19% California zinfandel added.  The production and availability of Purple Heart wines is the result of a collaboration between the Mondavi Family and the Purple Heart Foundation whose mission includes support, outreach and advocacy for combat wounded veterans and their families. Much of the focus of the Foundation’s work centers on employment for people with disabilities, homelessness and women veteran’s issues.

The Purple Heart wines, along with other efforts, will hopefully increase awareness and funding needed to continue and expand services. A noble cause, but let’s talk about the wine.

Purple Heart is not head winemaker John Moynier’s first rodeo, he has made wine for the Mondavi family nearly 33 years.  It’s the only place he has worked since earning a degree in Fermentation Science from UC Davis.

It is hard to imagine telling my parents in the late 1960s that I was majoring in fermentation science.  They would have seen it as a metaphor for everything but studying.  Things have changed.  Today, it is an honorable profession that balances brains with brawn. 

Moynier, a US Air Force veteran, was inspired enough by the project to return from his retirement.  He felt up to the challenge to create a wine worthy of the cause it would support.

The 2015 Purple Heart Wine is a merlot dominant blend that includes zinfandel, petit verdot and cabernet franc.  There is a reason merlot is the third most planted grape globally.  Early to ripen, it is intended to be a good blender and flourishes with the support of the other Bordeaux grapes.  

If zinfandel was grown in Bordeaux, it would be a good addition as long as its bold flavors were held in check. Here, the 19% zinfandel adds, for the most part, to the flavor profile, not a high alcohol level (14.2%) or an imbalanced pH. 

In contrast to the merlot, petit verdot is late-ripening and, although it can add dynamics to the wine, it definitely influenced the deep color here. The cabernet franc is evident in the spice hints.

I tasted the 2015 Purple Heart three times, once after twenty minutes in the glass, hours later and, finally, the next day when the flavors were fully integrated.  Each time, after much swirling, it expressed nice texture with balanced, accessible flavors. If your budget is under twenty dollars per bottle and you enjoy red wine, I recommend this one without hesitation.

2015 Purple Heart Wine

Dark and opaque in the glass, the medium-bodied release offered dark plum and a hint of licorice on the nose, a rich mouthfeel with more red fruit flavors and some spice on the finish. The added zinfandel grape was clear, but did not dominate. With healthy balanced tannins, Purple Heart will cellar well, but is very drinkable now.

The task of creating a complex red blend, using Sonoma County fruit, for under twenty dollars cannot be a simple one. Kudos to John Moynier for an effort to be proud of.

It would be appropriate and symbolic for those enjoying wine with friends on Memorial Day, or at any time, to include a bottle of Purple Heart wine to toast and remember our heroes.  I knew and know a few who would appreciate it.  

Purple Heart wines are available in some outlets and, with a little research, can be easily located throughout the Bay Area.


Good News for Ernest Vineyards

 

While they are partners in the development of Grand Cru Custom Crush in Windsor, Erin Brooks and Todd Gottula are also member winemakers who work closely with many of the finest Sonoma County vineyards and growers to produce pinot noir, chardonnay and other varietals under their Ernest Vineyards, Edaphos and Eugenia labels. With extensive resumes in technology and sales,  both have

Erin Brooks and Todd Gottula

married their agricultural roots on second careers in winemaking.

A small producer, Ernest has stayed focused on relationships with growers and on making the wines they like.  However, it’s always nice to be appreciated.  Last week, they received word that Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awarded four 2015 pinot noir releases with 90+-point ratings, including 95-points to the Ernest “Cleary Ranch Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2015, aka “The Settler.”

“The Settler” is sourced from a vineyard in Freestone, located in the coastal portion of the expansive Sonoma Coast appellation.  Relentless fog and no wind to burn it off pushes temperatures lower, extending the ripening period. The result here is expressive, spicy aromatics and flavors with low alcohol (12.5%).

2015 Cleary Ranch Vineyard

I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Erin Brooks as she curated a tasting of her current releases, including a single-vineyard pinot noir with a distinct profile. To begin, she poured a 2016 Aligoté from their more experimental Edaphos label, sourced from a vineyard near my home in Bennett Valley, south of Santa Rosa.  I knew nothing of the aligoté grape other than it was a rare Burgundian varietal that produced dry wines. My interest was heightened.

Dave McIntyre, in a Washington Post article, called aligoté, “an explorer’s wine,” there only for those willingly to look past chardonnay in Burgundy.  Everyone should try an aligoté once in their lifetime and this one is nearby.

Having previously enjoyed a bottle of the Ernest Black Emerald Vineyard Chardonnay Russian River 2014, today we tasted the final vintage Ernest Green Valley Ranch Chardonnay 2015, aka “The Farmer,” and the Ernest Fallenleaf Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, aka “The Jester,”  two very different releases.

“The Farmer” is sourced from a Russian River Valley vineyard near the town of Graton.  Aged in equal parts stainless steel, neutral and new oak, the result is a crisp, more austere wine.  “The Jester” originates from a warmer inland vineyard near the town of Sonoma.  With full malolactic fermentation and aging in 60% new French oak, it expresses more stone fruit flavors with mineral notes, all soft on the palate.

The fog is a real influence on the organically farmed Rayhill Vineyard that sits 500-ft. above it in the Sebastopol Hills. I found that the Ernest Rayhill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, aka “The Grandfather,” was the most unique pinot noir of the four we tasted.  Herba

Ernest Pinot Noir Romanini Vineyard 2016

l and wet stone hints in the bouquet continued with a rich mouthfeel and eloquent dark fruit and white pepper flavors. Erin suggested that it was bold enough to pair with beef.

Two other single-vineyard pinot noir releases were tasted, both with 90+ scores from Robert Parker.  Green Valley is known as “the coolest, foggiest region in the Russian River Valley” and is the source of the nicely defined Ernest App Road (Bush) Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, aka “The Artist.”  From a tiny vineyard blocks from the Sonoma Plaza, the Ernest Romanini Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 aka “The Engineer” parlays warm days and cool nights into intense fruit flavors.

My first introduction to Ernest Vineyards came by enjoying a bottle of the Edaphos Grenache 2014 from the Steel Plow Vineyard in the Sonoma Valley.  I discovered that grapes in the vintage 2014 and the current Edaphos Grenache 2015 are carbonically fermented, exposing the uncrushed grapes to carbon dioxide before being transferred to a concrete amphora for aging. This process pushes the fruit forward and lowers the tannins. The layered flavors and rich texture of this wine defy its price.

Another fine value is the Edaphos Barbera 2015 sourced from the Madhaven Vineyard in Glen Ellen.  The winemaker feels that barbera has enough tannins, so there is no oak in this one.  It is hatched from a concrete egg and has a rich, soft texture.

Ernest Vineyards currently produces 3,000 cases per year.  Their growth depends upon building more relationships with quality vineyards and growers and they seem to be moving in the right direction.

 


Launching BACA Wines

 

We entered Hall Wines in Saint Helena on a gorgeous May evening, looking forward to a walk through the sculpture garden as the sun set over the vineyards. However, the focus of the evening was HALL/WALT Wines announcement for the launching of their newest brand.  It had been such a secret that the attendees were asked to guess the new varietal by putting a marble in one of four glasses marked riesling, zinfandel, syrah and merlot.  I incorrectly guessed syrah.

Soon, Kathryn Hall, amid blue and orange balloons, stood by the symbolic large blue door and introduced her daughter Jennifer Brown who will be spearheading, with winemaker Alison Frichtl Hollister, the new BACA Wines brand that features zinfandel from vineyards in four prime California AVAs.  BACA, latin for “berry” honors the fruit from which it all begins.

Jennifer Brown and winemaker Alison Frichtl Hollister launch BACA

BACA will follow the WALT platform by sourcing grapes from established and proven zinfandel vineyards instead of pinot noir. The Paso Robles, Russian River Valley, Howell Mountain and Rockpile AVAs are among the finest growing regions for California zinfandel and each enhances BACA’s goal of making nuanced wines.

The origins of zinfandel are not totally clear, although the Wine Institute states that the primitivo in Italy and something called Crljenak Kastelanski from Croatia are an identical match to zinfandel in California. The grape, according to the California Department of Agriculture, is grown in 45 of our 58 counties.  American zinfandel comes from California soil and the diversity of our terroir is on display with the BACA releases.

I am very familiar with the Dante Dusi Vineyard, adjacent to Highway 101 between Templeton and Paso Robles, having enjoyed their zinfandel through several producers in the local region.  A few years ago, I had the pleasure to walk through the vineyard with the late Mr. Dusi, a WWII veteran and seasoned fsrmer.

As with other wines from this vineyard, the full-bodied BACA Zinfandel Dusi Vineyard ($50) aka

BACA Releases

“Double Dutch” is bold with concentrated fruit and spice on the palate and a classic licorice finish.  It is aged for ten months in French oak, 35% new.

The Rockpile Vineyard, in the northeast corner of Sonoma County, sits at high elevations above Lake Sonoma with soils and climate described as “wild and rugged.”  Higher heat, less fog and rocky, somewhat stressed soils are what zinfandel vines thrive on. The medium-bodied BACA Zinfandel Rockpile Vineyard 2016 ($50) aka “Cat’s Cradle” is quite complex with floral hints on the nose, a pleasant minerality that combines with the red fruit flavors and spicy finish.  It is aged for ten months in French oak, 35% new.

The historic Maffei Vineyard has produced zinfandel grapes in the flat, easterly portion of the Russian River Valley for nearly 100 years. Over the past few decades they have sourced their crop to many highly recognized wineries.  The loamy soils and foggy marine layer can stress the vines, resulting in fruit-forward wines.  The healthy tannins and acidity of the full-bodied BACA Zinfandel Maffei Vineyard 2016 ($50) aka “Tug O’War are offset by layered flavors of strawberry and blueberry. It is aged ten months in French oak, 30% new.

In a dry-farmed vineyard high above the valley floor, rich with volcanic soil, the BACA Zinfandel Howell Mountain Napa Valley

BACA Launch Party

2016 ($50) aka “I, Spy” was born. A perfume quality on the bouquet precedes softer tannins and full-bodied dark berry flavors with herbal, floral and spice hints through the finish.

The BACA zinfandels are each nicknamed after games that require agility, dexterity, mental acuity and brut strength. The assorted skills seem to be metaphors for the distinctive four releases.

Due to very limited production, BACA will distribute their wines primarily through a membership list that enables members to purchase up to a case of each, compared to a three-bottle limit for the public.  Options include shipments of two, four or six bottles twice a year.  BACA will also host a variety of events at the HALL winery site, a benefit of its own.

Among it advantages, BACA Wines offer, for zinfandel lovers, an opportunity for one-stop comparisons of the grape’s expression in different terroir. My first choice is still the Dusi Vineyard, but I can always be convinced otherwise.


Grand Cru in Windsor

 

At its core, Grand Cru Custom Crush founded by Robert and Erin Morris and Todd and Erin Gottula, is a great idea, one that reflects modern day business and lifestyle trends.  It provides state-of-the-art technology and production equipment as well as individualized tasting rooms to be shared by small, boutique winemakers. The co-operative concept itself is clean and efficient and opens doors for producers who work under the premise that “less is better” to pursue their passion and connect with the consumer.  Grand Cruprojects t

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Co-op production facilities

hat, in 2018, 25,000 cases will be produced by a baker’s dozen local winemakers who are current members.

As we toured the production facilities, Morris and Erin Brooks(Gottula) discussed the attention to detail that would accommodate multiple winemakers and reduce common problems. By providing the best crush equipment, a variety of small fermentation tanks, barrel rooms and an on-site lab, all designed to match the needs of their “target client production,” the Grand Cru Custom Crush plan optimizes success and sustainability.

Although the exterior design was inspired by the Boradorri Garage, a 1932 historical building overlooking the ocean in Cayucos, CA, the modern-day, aesthetically pleasing interior includes several individual spaces where guests can sample specific wineries or hand-pick a variety among all member releases.

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Grand Cru Custom Crush in Windsor

Another advantage for Grand Cru Custom Crush is that they are part of the growing Windsor Beverage District that currently houses DuMol and Marcassin wineries with others on the horizon.  Participating businesses also include the Sonoma Brothers Distillery, local fire captain Aron Levin’s St. Florian’s Brewery and Tilted Shed Ciderworks, makers of local specialty ciders.  A 22,000 square foot restaurant and tasting center, currently under construction by the popular, Santa Rosa-based Russian River Brewing Company, promises to add another attraction.

Robert and Erin could not say enough about their experience in dealing with the Town of Windsor, calling them a role model for other government entities seeking to be business friendly and creating public-private partnerships. The beverage district concept, in my opinion, will flourish, building on the wine and spirits tourism that exists in the region.

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One of the many tasting rooms

The current member wineries of Grand Cru Custom Crush are Black Kite Cellars, Bruliam Wines, Bydand, Cleary Ranch Vineyard, Ernest Wines, Eric Kent, Flambeaux, Kesner Wines, Lando, Magnolia Blossom, Mila Family Vineyards, Mueller Wines and Smith and Story Wine Cellars.  Some have received accolades for pinot noir, chardonnay and rose’ while others offer rarer varietals to the region like grenache, sémillon, and cabernet sauvignon.

Reservations can be made to taste wines from any of the members or one can experience an eclectic sampling from a hand-picked menu. I had the opportunity to sit down with Erin Brooks to sample all the current releases from Ernest Wines, which she owns with

KimCarroll.com-MILA-41-e1510112881876

Mila Family Vineyards Prima Grenache

her husband Todd.  They will be featured in a future column.  However, if I returned to Grand Cru tomorrow, I would hand-select the following wines.

Produced by Ernest Wines under their Eugenia label, a little known Rhone grape is showcased in the 2017 San Lucas Vineyard Rosé of Cinsault 2017 Central Coast “The Country Wife,” providing a unique beginning.  The 2016 Smith and Story Lakota’s View Sémillon Sonoma Mountain gives us an alternative white varietal and the whole-cluster pressed Mila Family Vineyards Prima Grenache an alternative red from their 54 acre wine farm in northeast Sonoma County.

We would continue by comparing two pinot noir releases:  the 2014 Mueller “Tempi” Pinot Noir that has received good reviews and the 2014 Bruliam Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard from a Central Coast vineyard that has sourced grapes to many fine producers.

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2014 Bruliam Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard

My tasting would end with the 2014 Flambeaux Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon that has received consistent 90+plus ratings.  It’s not everyday that cinsault, semillon,

marcietempi

Mueller Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

grenache, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon would be together in one tasting. The quality and variety of member produced wines affords opportunities to sample new ones for many future visits.

The Grand Cru Custom Crush is an ambitious effort that seems to be a win-win situation for all aspects of the wine experience.  It promotes the expanded production of fine boutique wines and one stop shopping for the consumer.  The evolution of Grand Cru and the entire Windsor Beverage District is something to watch.

 

 


Springtime for Rose’

 

Although modern rose’ wines are designed to pair with food and be enjoyed year-round, they still come to mind when the spring air

Chateau d’ Esclans in Provence

begins to warm.  While some are “bled off” from juice destined for a red wine, a process known as the Saignee method, others are planted and field blended specifically for the rose’.

While Provence remains the world-wide leader in the production of fine rose’, I have discovered several releases from California and

the Pacific Northwest that are composed of Burgundian, Rhone and Bordeaux varietals.

I first tasted the Whispering Angel rose’ from Chateau d’ Esclans at a 2006 tasting of Cote de Provence wines.  A blend of grenache, cinsault, vermentino, syrah and tourben, the Chateau d’ Esclans Whispering Angel 2017 ($22) is clean with dense flavors and a

Chateau d’ Esclans “Rock Angel” Rose’

rich mouthfeel, the result of regular lees stirrings. Another release, the Chateau d’ Esclans Rock Angel Rose’ 2016 ($35) has an herbal/mineral character that is exceptional with food.

From Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the full whole cluster pressed 2017 Gran Moraine

2016 Gran Moraine Rose’ of Pinot Noir

Yamhill-Carlton Rose’ of Pinot Noir ($28) is crafted from designated stock in two vineyards.  Once it opened up in the glass, the floral hints in the bouquet heightened and the crisp, complex berry and melon flavors were revealed.

Grenache is among my favorite varietals, as a red wine, in a Rhone blend or as a rose’. Recent tastings of grenache rose’ from Santa Barbara, Napa and Sonoma counties showcase the grape’s adaptability and the welcoming terroir throughout California.

From the estate Colson Canyon Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley, grapes were purposely harvested early to retain the bright acidity in the 2017 Tensley Colson Canyon Grenache Rose’ ($22).  Nicely structured, it

Carol Shelton Rendezvous Rose’

expressed complex, balanced tropical fruit, melon and citrus flavors.

Sharon Kazan Harris sources the grapes for her Rarecat Rose’ 2017 ($36) from a Davis, CA vineyard with, as she describes, poor, rocky soil, perfect for the core grenache.   Aside from the soothing salmon color, the floral aromas are pronounced and pink grapefruit dominates the palate.  It has a noticeable acidity that will compliment seafood and shellfish.

I’m told that the inspiration for the 2017 Limerick Lane Rose’ ($24) came from eating mussels and drinking rose in the village of Cassis, along the French Meditteranean, something I can relate to.  The syrah (62%) and grenache (38%) grapes for this Russian River Valley blend were specifically designated and harvested. The rich citrus and strawberry flavors set up a nice, long mineral finish.

Produced from Mendocino County carignane grapes that are bled off after three long days with skins, the 2017 Carol Shelton “Rendezvous” Rose’ ($15) has a darker red color than most.  There are spice notes on the nose and rich, expressive fruit flavors that peak through the finish. It pairs well with Thai food or BBQ, but I prefer it by itself.

2017 St. Supery Napa Valley Rose’

St. Supery Winery, in the heart of the Napa Valley, has produced a variety of Bordeaux-style wines for nearly three decades.  With a darker cherry color, the St. Supery Rose’ 2015 ($29), a merlot-dominant blend, features five Bordeaux varietals that covey elegant flavors of red berries, currants and herbs.  It pairs well with seafood and rich sauces.

Bandol, in southern France, is one of the premier wine regions in Provence with soils and climate fitting for the mourvedre grape that imparts structure to wine.  All red and rose’ wines from the region must contain at least 50% mourvedre. The highly acclaimed 2016 Domaines Ott “Château Romassan” Bandol Rosé ($47), is 60% mourvedre with added cinsault, grenache and syrah  Earning reviews in the mid-nineties, the bouquet is a scented flower garden and the vibrant hints of pink grapefruit remain

2016 Dunham Cellars/MacLachlan “Pursued by Bear” Rose’

throughout the lush finish.

From Washington’s Columbia Valley region, the 2016 Dunham Cellars/MacLachlan “Pursued by Bear” Blushing Bear Columbia Valley Rosé $28

is another grenache-dominant release with strong support from cinsault and mourvedre.  “Pursued by Bear” is actor Kyle MacLachlan’s label and he, apparently, was personally involved in the development of this wine. I found it clean and balanced with a diversified and opulent flavor profile.

This list hardly scratches the surface of what is available.  Whatever suits your palate, new rose’, with all the complexities of red wine, is something that should not be overlooked.

Vineyards in Bandol