Angela Osbourne is a special woman, with a long history obsession with Grenache. A native of New Zealand, she now makes her home in the Santa Barbara Wine Country, where she sources unique vineyards for her variations on the beauty that is, Grenache. You can read more about her story here, and I highly recommend that you get on the mailing list; now! no, not tomorrow, not later, NOW. Having known the winemaker for several years, I am consistently entranced by her wines, and have not had one I didn’t fall instantly in love with. As I was hopping on a random bus for the Friday evening excursions at the Wine Bloggers Conference recently, I was delighted to learn it was the Renegade Rhone bus, and at the second stop, I walked in to Andrew Murray Winery and there was Angela, an A Tribute To Grace. After holding my summer allocation of Grenache and Rose for several months in order to preserve the precious few bottles I own, I, at first, thought I must be having a Rhône hallucination. But as luck would have it, Angela was there – live and in person – amongst some of my favorite Rhône varietal producers. So this week, it is only fitting that I bring you my Rosés of Summer: A Tribute to Grace 2013 Rose of Grenache. Make with 100% Grenache, this wine reminds me of a summer’s day in Provence, where the light, pale pinks dominate the landscape. The Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, which is also where Angela sources some Grenache for red wine, is in the middle of the Sierra Madre Mountains, at 3200′ elevation. The vineyard is sustainable managed, and while there are 12 varietals planted here, Grenache is only 4% of the total yield; this is somehow unsurprising given that there are less than 10,000 acres of the fruit in California, compared to over 98,000 of Cabernet Sauvignon. Here, at Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, they take Grenache seriously: 4 distinct clones are planted, and only give winemakers have access to fruit from the block this wine is made from. The whole clusters rested for 24 hours in their skins, given it a just kissed baby’s cheek color; Clone 2 also contributes to the pale rose gold tone, and picking early in the seasons gives this wine an intensity of acid and spice that is perfect ot me. With watermelon, blood orange, Tuscan melon and raspberry notes, with underlying rosehips and hibiscus. This wine represents everything I look for in a rose, and makes my little heart go pitter patter. At $23, get some before it’s going-going-gone! I purchased this wine myself, although any sips I may have taken in Los Olivos at WBC were entirely provided by the wineries pouring.
When I first met Angela Osbourne, she was working with the Natural Process Alliance (NPA) in Santa Rosa in 2010. I had the opportunity to taste some of her early incarnations and knew we were in for a treat. Originally from New Zealand, Angela moved to California in 2006 to pursue her love of Grenache. In 2007, Angela found her first fruit from the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, which is located 33 miles from the Pacific Ocean, in a high desert landscape. For a heat loving varietal like Grenache, this is the perfect location. At 3200 feet, the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard is located in an arid and hot climate, with cool snowy winters. Sustainably farmed and planted for the site specifics, the vineyard has 12 varietals with Grenache only being 4% of the total planted land. with 5 clones of Grenache, only 5 winemakers are making Grenache from this site. 100% Grenache, A Tribute to Grace is a lighter style Grenache, with a pungent strawberry punch at the beginning. This is a fresh, lively wine, that shows off dry earth and red fruit in a fresh mouth full of flavor. With a touch of spice on the finish and more red raspberry up front, this wine is 50% whole cluster fermented which Angela ligihtly treaded on daily. At least I hope it was Angela doing the treading! The other 50% was destemmed and the resultling wine is a lively fun, refreshing Grenache with the backbone whole cluster provides. The use of whole clusters changes the flavor profile, tannin structure and aromas of a resulting wine, so by blending in a classically destemmed portion, Angela achieve a balance that creates a lovely wine. Check it out!