Rosé Colored Glasses: Sidebar Cellars

When I first tasted the Sidebar Cellars Kerner, from the Mokelumne Glen vineyard in Lodi, I thought to myself, “wow this is a fun little white”, as I sat in the heat of Lodi in April.  At that time, we were exploring the Mokelumne River AVA, and I didn’t make the connection to David Ramey of Ramey Cellars.

Fast forward to 2016, and as I get my rosés ready to rumble, a little birdie told me that Sidebar Cellars did a rosé.  Knowing how much I love pink wine around this time of year, I made sure I got my hands on one and I was glad I did!

Sidebar Cellars was born out of Ramey’s desire to play around a bit, and presents a departure from the Ramey Wine Cellars more austere lineup of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon; hence, Sidebar.

The 2016 Sidebar Cellars Russian River Valley Rosé comes from an old-vine Syrah vineyard, and represents a refreshing change of pace from the more common place saignée (bleed off) Pinot Noir rosés, which while delicious, can get a little boring.

Bursting with strawberry and peach on the nose, herbal rose hips and hibiscus came through on the palate.  Tart plum skins and tannin give this wine some oomph, while ruby red grapefruit hides at the back f the palate, offering a refreshing finish.  The zesty green apple and lime lingers on your palate with a hint of pickled watermelon rind, and keeps you going back for another sip.

This is a great summer sipper and pairs surprisingly well with sriracha potato chips!  It would also be an excellent match to your Easter Ham or a roast chicken.

Special thanks to Alexandra O’Gorman, Communications Director at Ramey Wine  Cellars for this delightful sample!

 




Dot…dot…dot

It’s hard to tell my looking out the window these days, but it’s high summer.  Generally speaking, high summer means warm weather, sunny days, and relaxing weekend BBQs with cold, refreshing pink wine.

Ellipsis Wine Company was founded in 2008 by Jonathan Neisingh, who, after growing up in the heart of Sonoma wine country (in Healdsburg) moved to San Luis Obispo to pursue his education in agribusiness (and wine!).  Completing his education and moving back to Sonoma County,  I met Ellipsis several years ago, at one of the large tastings here in SF.  At that time, I knew I loved their wine, and am thrilled to see them grow and develop over the last 8 years.  Growing up in Healdsburg, Jonathan saw first hand the industry grow and change over the last twenty years, which drives his passion to make world class wine (with the help of their consulting winemaker) that expresses each region’s unique terroir in every sip.

Ignoring the seemingly endless mist outside, summer can come in a glass!  Particular this glass of Ellipsis Wine Company Rosé of Pinot Meunier.  The first thing you notice about this beautiful pink wine is the depth of color:  a pure purple toned pink, it looks gorgeous in the glass, and the first whiff gives off a lovely savory dried herb character.   The first sip reveals savory watermelon salad with lavender, juicy wild strawberries, and tropical notes.  I love the mineralality that plays off of the juicy citrus, and the medium body makes it a great wine for grilled chicken, burgers and other summer fare.  I can’t wait to visit and get more of this fantastic summer sipper!  $25

Thank you to #winestudio and Ellipsis for another great Tuesday Tasting!

 

Rosé , Rosé , Rosé , Rosé

IMG_1065 (1)Will they ever be as sweet?

The answer is, no!  because rose has made a revolution, and there are new kids on the block.  Gone are the days of bygone all there was to rosé was a sweet, cloying white zinfnadel.  Today’s American pink wine is diverse, exciting, and runs from off dry to bone dry, from juicy strawberries to salted watermelon.

To focus on these diverse styles of rosé, this month’s #winestudio is focusing on the various style of rosé from Sonoma County.

The first up is Passaggio Wines, who’s winemaker Cindy Cosco loves to play with different fruit sources.  I’ve known Cindy for a while now, from her humble beginnings at Crushpad in San Francisco after a career in law enforcement, to her thriving tasting room on the Sonoma Plaza.

Starting with the Barbera, on through the Mourvedre, pushing through Rosé Colored Glasses (a Tempranillo) and on to her latest pink project from Merlot, there is always something new to taste form this eclectic winery.

2014 Mourvedré Rose (sold out) – quite possibly my favorite of the three, the Mourvedré Rose comes from Clarksburg, a warm climate in the Central Valley.  With juicy red fruit, strawberries and raspberries as expected, but with an herbal and floral finish, this is a perfect rose with grilled wild salmon or grilled chicken.

2015 Rose Colored Glasses – Sourced from Sonoma County, this starts out similarly to the Mourvedré, with bright red berries, it quickly reveals itself to be a stronger rose with deeper red fruit, watermelon, and a hint of spice.  A classic rosato style, it stands up well to burgers and other grilling meats.

2015 Merlot Rose – is the newest kid on the block, hailing from Carneros.  Low in alcohol and deep in color, it has classic Merlot flavors of cherry, plum and blackberry, but finishes with a beautiful green herbal note and savory dried herbs.  This is a fun addition to the club, and I can taste the salted watermelon salad, pork chops or turkey burgers.

Three cheers to Cindy and her rose project, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

While the Merlot rosé was a sample sent to me for the purposes of particiapting in #winestudio, all other Passaggio wines were purchased by…me!

Next up in #winestudio, Ellipses Wine Compnay Rose of Pinot Meunier!

 

Roses of Summer: Ousterhout Wines Russian River Valley

Ousterhout Wine & VineyardIt isn’t often that I find a new winery, that I haven’t at least heard of.  Recently, when I received the invitation to the Ousterhout Wine & Vineyard Release party here in San Francisco, I was excited to be able to go and try new wines without having to go very far from home.  Leave it to me and my city dwelling blogging friends to be able to go wine tasting on a Tuesday night in the Marina!

Owners Douglas and Nancy Ousterhout create delicious Pinot Noir Rose and Zinfandel from a small vineyards in Sonoma County, as well as thier estate vineyard in Alexander Valley.  With strong agricultural roots, the Ousterhouts are wine naturals. With a thriving medical practice in San Francisco, the vineyard property is a weekend retreat where they can build their brand in the tranquility of this quiet corner of Sonoma.

Winemaker Michah Wirth cut his baby teeth in Oregon, working with cult producers like Raptor Ridge before moving back to Healdsburg.  Here, he started working with Gary Farrel Winery, where he spent 7 years learning how to create stellar Pinot Noir.  Like most young winemakers, he wanted to create his own wines, which he did in 2007 with Joseph Jewell in 2006.  Today, he makes the wines at Ousterhout in a refreshingly different style.  While the zins are bold, they are not overpowering.  The roses are distinctive and not sweet.

 With three roses and two Zinfandels, along with a Sauvignon Blanc for added measure, Ousterhout is tightly focused on their wines.  In particular, the three roses really caught my attention.

This week, my rose of the week is the porch pounder summer loving Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir.  Along with two vineyard designate roses, the Russian River is a delightfully crisp refreshing Rose.  With bright red fruit, Tuscan melon, strawberries and mineral note, this is a great rose for grilled chicken, salads, and turkey burgers.  At only $22, it’s an afforable summer wine, that is brest served well chilled on the deck with friends.

Check out Ousterhout’s other wines here!  Enjoy a great dry rose of Zinfandel, or a classic Zinfandel from Dry Creek!

Jack Steffan, Director of Sales & Marketing graciously provided me with a bottle of wine for further inspection, but all options and expression of joy are my own. 

 

Google

Sometimes, smaller is better

Often times, people have the assumption that larger is better; whether it’s in wine, packages of snacks at Costco, or houses with more bedrooms than people in the town where I went to boarding school, the message is bigger is better.  Even in wine, the message can be bigger is better; while not referring to size, it often shows up in large production labels, that assume that releasing 10,000 cases means they are successful.  It also shows up stylistically, when wines become Fraken-fied, with additives and strange concoctions of science much more than art.

My choice, therefore, is to spend as much money as I can on supporting smaller, local producers who not only need to cash more, but have more creativity and stylistic control than – dare I say it – that label with the Kangaroo on it down the street.

Luckily for me, I was invited to the Micro Winery Open House at Inspiration Custom Crush in Santa Rosa recently.  Here, several smaller wineries – including Inspiration, were pouring their wares.  I have a few highlights from the event and a shamless plug for a fellow blogger turned winemaker who is doing some great things with Rhone varitals.

First up, Wesley Ashley Wines‘ Intelligent Design Cuvee Blanc is a Rhône style
blend of  Vioginer, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc from Santa Barbara.  The Viognier adds a nice aromatic note, while the Roussanne gives a crisp acidity that would be perfect for a summer sipper.  We all know by now, that I love a good Grenache Blanc, and the 20% addition to this blend rounds out the white and gives it a solid body.  This is no wimpy wine!  Classic flavors of nectarine and apricot show up under the floral notes of the viognier.

Also from Wesley Ashely, the 2009 Intellivent Design Cuvee is another classic Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Petite Sirah.  The Grenache, which is 75% of the blend, shows off its strawberry spice, with the Syrah adding some great backbone.

YOu can find Wesley Ashely Wines at the winery by appointment, The Wine Mine in Oakland, and several restaurants around the bay area.

This is a winery to watch!
Keeping on the Rhône theme, next up we meet the Two Shepherds.  William Allen, a fellow wine blogger over at Simple Hedonisms, and partner Michelle Berger launched Two Shepherds wine to focus on Rhône style wines from California with distinction.

So far so good I’d say!  It takes extreme talent and guts to start a winery, particularly if you’re day job is in sales, as William’s is.  Having known him for a few years now, I have seen first hand the sheer tenacity that it takes to launch a brand, learn about the chemistry of winemaking, the ins and outs of running a business and also trying to pay the bills.  Kudos to a successful launch!

I was one of the lucky few to taste the delicious Grenache Blanc, which is sadly sold out now – but it was a great example of a Rhône white, that balances out acidity with the creamy subtle sweetness.  Some GBs can be either too acidic (I’ve had a few from Spain) or too full bodied which implies sweetness.  The Two Shepherds balances those two, with a nice minerality, white peach, lemon lime flavors, followed by a flinty finish.  I am eagerly waiting for more of this to be bottled so I can nab some for the cellar!

Also from Two Shepherds, the MRV is a classic white Rhône blend, comprised of Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier.  I enjoyed a bottle of this last night with Butternut squash Lasagna, and the creamy body of the MR balanced the sweetness of the Butternet perfectly.  The Addition of the viogner adds a touch of honeysuckle.

There are two red offerings from Two Shepherds, the GSM, and the SM (Syrah/Mourvedre).  The GSM blend is a bit different than your average southern Rhone, or for that matter, Paso Robles Rhone blend, as the Grenache in this blend adds acidity and flavors to develop that are unique to the area.  The lighter style blends perfectly with the fuller bodied Syrah and Mourvedre, to create a masterpiece of bright red berry, spice box, and a lingering flavor that I personally can only describe as Grenache.

This wine isn’t technically released, but it will be soon and I suggest buying a bottle and letting it sleep for a bit.  If not, give it some air before you sip and swirl.

The Syrah/Mourvedre blend uses the same Syrah from Russian River, and is blended equally with Mourvedre.  The SM is slightly fuller bodied than the GSM, as you don’t have the higher acid in the Grenache to lighten the load.  It is also delicious and would be fantastic with roast chicken, a burger, or cassoulet.

You can find Two Shepherds wines at the winery by appointment, and via mail order, but also at K&L Wine Merchants, Wicked Wines in HBG, and several restaurants in the Bay Area including The Girl & Fig, Spoonbar, and Toast Wine Lounge.  Click here for details.

The moral of this story?  Seek out those small producers.  They work in small lots, and can be more creative than people making large amounts of wine.  Have fun discovering them.  The custom crush / coop tasting room is more and more popular, as it allows smaller brands to showcase their wines while sharing costs for capital expenditures.

Now, I don’t harbor any fantasies of being able to be a chemist and make my own wine, but it sure is fun to live vicariously!  I’ve picked up some of the pieces of the puzzle on the way, and while I don’t think I could go it on my own, I do lust after a barrel or two of Pinot Noir in my future.

Some of my other favorite coop tasting rooms:

  • Winery Collective – San Francisco
  • The Wine Yard – Santa Rosa
  • The urban wineries of Coffey Lane (that’s my own name) – The NPA, Carol Shelton, Vinify Winery Collective & Custom Crush, Inspiration Custom Crush, all located in the same complex as the micro wineries featured in this post.

Explore your town!  There are Urban wineries in San Francisco such as Dogpatch Wineworks and Bluxome Street.  Oakland and Alameda have an urban explosion.

Support your local winemaker!  You won’t be sorry!

 

Bubbles bring me Joy!

It’s a terrible thing, be able to enjoy sparkling wines whenever I want to.  I personally love bubbles with potato chips, hamburgers, and at the ballpark, but that’s just me.  I’m a firm believe that wine (especailly sparkling wine) is made to celebrate life, and not just life’s special occasions!

In celebration of my life and my friends, Iwas invited crashed dinner with friends, including the venerable Chuck Hayward of JJ Buckley Wine, his Girl Friday Paige (also of JJ Buckley) and my sistah from anotha motha, as well as Joy Sterling, CEO of Iron Horse Vineyards, the far western Sonoma County bubble house.

Iron Horse was founded by Audrey and Barry Sterling in 1976, in a quiet corner of Green Valley, in the lush rolling hills of Green Valley.  This western Sonoma area is in the rainy side of town, and it’s a perfect place to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  So off they went, to grow grapes for still wine.

But why would a vineyard, known for creating delicious Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, make the leap to sparkling?  It’s not exactly easy.  The answer is easy – necessity is the mother of invention.  In 1980, the first vintage of sparkling wine was made when there was an excess of still wine.  Since 1985, Iron Horse sparkling wine has been served in the White House continuously.  Not too shabby for a creative solution to a common problem.

Audrey and Barry passed on the Iron Horse legacy to their children, Joy and Laurence.  Joy, educated in paris and at Yale (yeah, she’s a smart cookie that one), is the face of Iron Horse and the CEO.  Her brother Laurence and his wife Terry live on property and he is the Director of Operations.

I was lucky enough to meet Joy through Paige several years ago, and it’s so much fun to drink with her!  But that’s enough about that.  Never one to say no to a glass of stars, we ran through all (oh yes all) of the  current releases at dinner.

2006 Ocean Reserve is a special bottling that was created in partnership with National Geogrraphic to help raise funds to protect marine areas.  This 100% Chardonnay is aged for 4+ years and has a briny flavor that actually does taste like the ocean.  There is a seaweed taste in there, with a creamy limestone and bitter lemon note that tastes of oysters and burnt toast.  So very interesting!

2006 Classic Vintage Brut is fresh and bright, and has a classic (no pun intended) flavor of freshly baked bread.  There is a ton of fresh lemon and bright crisp citrus as well.  With 68% Pinot Noir, it’s a great example of a Green Valley wine.

The 2007 Wedding Cuvee  has a lot more color than in most years.  The gorgeous strawberry and raspberry notes had a fresh floral feeling, with rose petals and cream.  Delicious!  This is probably my favorite Iron Horse sparkling wine.

The 2006 Brut Rose is a gorgeous deep salmon blush color.  With Blood orange and oom on the nose and almost a bit of tomato, this purpose made rose has a rich flavor that brings some thing different to the table.

The 2006 Russian Cuvee is another classic, with buttered popcorn flavors springled with fresh yeast.  It is slightly sweeter than the others and has delcious stonefruit falvors .  This is my other favorite!  Starting it’s life as the same base wine as the Classic Vintage Brut, the Russian is given a richer dosage (more sugar).  This makes the Russian more opulent, and fitting for any Czar.  It’s got a touch of sweetness, and was created for the Reagan-Gorbachev summit at the end of the Cold War.  Pretty cool!

 

Iron Horse Vineyards is located on Ross Station Road, just outside of Sebastopol in western Sonoma County.  If you go, make sure you you bring your four wheel drive and mud boots in the winter, and a hat int he summer!  Sitting on the top of a hill above the vineyards in the valley, you will be able to sip wine among the apple trees, in the outdoor tasting bar.  There is no table serviec here, just pure fun!

Speed tasting 11: Going back back back to Cali Cali

Ok normally i would NEVER ever ever say Cali. But, Biggie Big is calling my name, and since we’re in Virginia sweating our asses off, I thought it was appropriate as we taste the 2010 Sivas Sonoma Sav Blanc.

This is a VERY grassy and green pepper wine.  It is 68% Sonoma Valley and the rest of the fruit comes from Russian River; it is 100% stainless steel fermented and is aged on the lees.  For $14 it could be a great summer quaffer, but it’s too grassy for me.

A little sun in the city

Ah, Sonoma.  That illustrious wine growing region to the north.  Oh the delicious pinot, zinfandel, and other wines created there!  Well, here in San Francisco, sometimes it’s hard to get up there.  Traffic, time, gas, etc.

Fortunately for us city dwellers, Sonoma is coming to the city!  This week, through a series of tastings and events, the wines of Sonoma are being showcased here in the city.

Starting tomorrow, the Grand Tasting at the Westin St Francis, over 200 wines from 100 wineries and growers will be poured.   Here, you can explore over 200 Sonoma County wines from 13 regions hand picked to show off the diverse terroir and winemaking styles.  Tickets are $55, but you can get a discount if you use your VISA Signature card!  There is also a special VIP room ($65).

On Thursday, Forks & Corks will be at the Firehouse at Fort Mason.  Eighty wines will be paired with five of our best food trucks: An the Go, Brass Knuckle, El Porteno Empanadas, Japa Curry and the Crème Brulee Guy. Tickets are $75 ($50 with the VISA discount, or $40 using code SPECIAL).

For those who like a little less formal of a stating, Vin12, who does monthly wine tastings at urban locations, is hosting a tasting on Friday at SLOANE for $25.  Featured wineries include Ceja, Gloria ferrere, Roessler, and Tin Barn.

I hope to see you out and one or more of the events!

Happy Sipping!

 

Are you single?

Are you looking for adventure?  Want some one on one time with some really great wine?

Then look no further!  SingleVineyard.com is a new dating site.

 

ok well not really.  BUT – it IS almost time for the 2nd Annual Russian River Single Vineyard night!  (And no, it’s NOT just for singles!)  What is this wild adventure you ask?  Single Vineyard Night is a celebration of single vineyard wines in the caves, where you can sip, eat and tweet some of the best that the area has to offer.

On June 4th, from 6:30-10, join single minded wineaux at Thomas George Estates in Russian River where you can wander the caves and meet more than 30 winemakers woh specialize in single vineyard wines.  Roving “Cellar Teams” will be promoting auction lots, and in a new twist, group bidding is encouraged to raise funds for Russian River Valley Winegrowers to continue their work to preserve the region’s agriculture legacy through marketing and education.  Targeted at millennials, the 20-30 somethings who are the biggest new group of wine drinkers since GenX grew up and became post boomer yuppies (oh hell, that’s ME!) young vintners and growers will be pouring their wares.

After the tasting, move on over to the  Thomas George Estates’ picnic grounds for the auction!   A no-host bar featuring wines that normally retail for under $25 (offered by the taste and glass) and “sliders” fresh off the grill for a small price will be available as well as other food items.  This year, one lot – hosted by Thomas George, will benefit a project sponsored by Coddingtown Mall, who donates gift cards to children from homeless shelters, Boys & Girls Clubs and other children’s groups to shop for school clothes.

Here are some of the kids pouring Single Vineyard wines:

  • Ancient Oaks, Siebert Ranch
  • Arrowood-Saralee’s Vineyard
  • Balletto Vineyards , selection of single vineyards
  • Benovia, Bella Una Vineyard
  • Desmond Wines, Estate
  • Dutton Estate Winery, Dutton Palms Vineyard
  • Dutton Goldfield, Freestone Hill Vineyard
  • Ferrari-Carano, Fiorella
  • Gary Farrell, Westside Farms
  • George Wine Company, Leras Family Vineyard
  • Graton Ridge Cellars, Bacigalupi Vineyard
  • Hop Kiln Winery, HKG Bridge Selection
  • Inman Family, Olivet Grange Vineyard
  • Iron Horse Vineyards, Rued Clone
  • John Tyler Wines, Bacigalupi Vineyard
  • Joseph Swan, Trenton View Vineyard
  • Korbel
  • LaFollette, DuNah Vineyard
  • Lauterbach Cellars, Estate
  • Longboard, Dakine Vineyard
  • Martinelli Winery, Lolita Ranch
  • Matrix Winery, Nunes Vineyard
  • Merriam, Willowside Vineyard
  • Merry Edwards, Klopp Ranch
  • Moshin Vineyards, Bacigalupi Vineyard
  • Mueller Winery, Vino Farms
  • Nalle Winery, Hopkins Ranch
  • Old World Winery, Estate
  • Papapietro Perry, Leras Family Vineyard
  • Russian River Vineyards, Estate Vineyards
  • Sandole Wines, Oehlman Ranch
  • Siduri Wines, Ewald Vineyards
  • Sonoma Cutrer, Owsley
  • Thumbprint Cellars, Saralee’s Vineyard
  • William Selyem, Flax Vineyard

Since I am unable to attend this year, both because I’m not longer single (don’t tell me you didn’t read my Facebook today!) and because I am booked, I am giving away two tickets to this event.  Yes!  TWO TICKETS!  Tickets are $45 each so that’s some moola right there. Please leave a comment here on this post telling me what you like most about Single Vineyard Wines to be eligible to wine!  Er win.  Winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 25th Thursday May 26th FRIDAY MAY 27TH (yeah you have to be 21 to attend youngsters).

Tickets to this event are $45 (presale, $55 at the door), or $80 for a VIP session that starts at 5:30.   I think it will be a blast!  Go forth and buy tickets.  It’s only $45! And you do not need a date, and you do not need to be single, you just need to love wine!

 

 

Extra extra! Weekend fun in SlowNoma

Hey check it out!

A new and different kind of wine event is hitting the airwaves this weekend in Sonoma Valley.

Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15, 2011 Sonoma Valley Reserve will host the newly coined Reserve (which replaced Passport to Sonoma Valley) with a series of themed daytrips that will showcase rare offerings and hidden gems of Sonoma Valley wine destinations, many of which are seldom open to the public.

“Our vintners have teamed up to create an upscale event that provides a passport to Sonoma Valley,” said Maureen Cottingham, Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance Executive Director, “It would otherwise be impossible for people to visit many of the stops on the daytrips.” The motor coaches seat only thirteen to twenty-four people per vehicle, so the groups are small. Sixty-one wineries are participating in the event featuring the twenty-three unique tours. Examples of some of the tours include:

  • Meet the Winery Rock Star Tour – Behind every benchmark Sonoma Valley winery, there’s a leader whose vision helped create its worldwide reputation. On this tour, participants will meet some of Sonoma Valley’s most charismatic and creative personalities, and taste the wines for which they’ve gained global acclaim.
  • Bridal Tour – Seeking the perfect Sonoma Valley spot for your wedding day? From panoramic views to vineyard vistas, this tour will help find the wedding location of a lifetime.
  • All Access Tour – An exclusive opportunity to gain access to wine destinations rarely open to the public and others that are accessible by appointment only. This tour provides the chance to find those wineries known only by the most experienced Sonoma alley isitors.
  • Food and Wine Pairing Tour – Embark upon a tasting tour unlike any other. Wineries will reveal the complex and magical art of pairing wine with food. Palates will be thrilled with perfect pairings created from the fresh and abundant local foods of Sonoma Valley.

I’m personally looking forward to the awesome food that will be paired with the Cannihan 06 & 07 Pinot Noir and Syrah, by gelato fiend and sometimes chef Jason Mancebo.

Sip now and sip often!

Participating wineries include  Sonoma faves Loxton, Kaz, and Gundlach Bundschu to name a few.

Each winery tour takes you to 4 uniquely themed destinations, including lunch.  You could tour some of the small family wineries, or perhaps focus on zin.  You decide!

Tickets for Sonoma Valley Reserve are extremely limited and on sale now at $85 for one day or $135 for two days. Sonoma Valley Reserve ticketholders can opt for the $30 round trip transportaiton from SonomaMill Valley orSan Francisco. which frees you up to do the drinking.

I’ll see you up there at Cannihan!

 

 

All day, all night it's…

Mary Ann, Marsanne!  Down by the seaside with a drink in her hand…all the little wine bloggers love Mary Ann!

Here in the Bay Area, we’re experiencing an odd sort of Summer in Winter.  The Giants won the series, and it was 76 in San Francisco on November 2nd.  This summer weather has be drinking more white wines again, so I thought it would be a great time to finsih this post from earlier this year.

Marsanne is one of my favorite white wines these days.  While I do occasionally like a Chardonnay, it has be a particular style, so I tend to lean towards alternative white wines, or more steely, less oaked Chardonnay (think some delicious Pouilly-Fuissé).  Marsanne is one of the 22 Rhône grapes, and is most often blended with another beauty – Rousanne.  It’s increasing popularity in the U.S. makes me smile!

This great example comes from one of my favorite small wineries in northern Calfiornia, Olson Ogden, who make limited production wines that really suit my style.  I am a particular fan of the syrah, though I am almost through the case I had squirreled away last year.

This Marsanne tasted of marzipan, lemon, grapefruit and orange pith – you know, that slight bitterness from the white part (though not in a bad way).  I also found loads of pear, and creamy stone fruit complimented with a nicely balanced acidity and a touch of honeysuckle on the nose.  The 17 months in stainless steel and 28% new French oak give it a nice touch of oak without overpowering it.  It’s creamy and rich but not an oak monster.

It’s a bit pricy for an everyday white at $35, but this is a MUST BUY if you like whites and wantt o venture out of the Chard / Sav Blanc superhighway.  But don’t just take MY word for it!  My friends at NectarWine, WinePost and NorCal wine also enjoyed this wine immensely.  Give it a try, and for those winter lovers, this wine goes amazingly well with all things butternut as well as a nicely herb rubbed roasted chicken.

Happy drinking!

THis wine was graciously provided by Olson Ogden.  Probably because I keep gusying about thier syrah.  BUt who cares!  IT’s good!