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.
In land far away, on a hill steeply above the valley, lies a secret place in Capay Valley called Casey Flat Ranch. Located at 2000 feet above sea level in the Vaca Mountains, between Napa Valley and the Central Valley, the area was originally settled in the late 1850s during the Gold Rush. Now, a new rush is on – both for sustainable organic produce, and wine. The Capay Valley AVA was established in 2002, which is somewhat surprising with only two vineyards: Casey Flat Ranch and Capay Vineyards. The 150 square miles of Capay Valley has only 100 acres under vine, with it’s primary resource being agriculture. The produce from Capay is legendary, and many an urban CSA gets it’s offerings from this area. While Capay Valley has had wineries since the Gold Rush, the pressure from neighboring Napa all but killed the wine industry out until recently. With Casey Flat Ranch being established in 1987 as a Texas Longhorn cattle ranch, vineyards were only added in 2004, initially as an experiment. Why not? If Napa could have all that success a mere 22 miles away, why not here? Lucky for us, this experiment yielded beautiful results! Focusing on Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, Casey Flat Ranch produces Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah Rose, Viognier, and an Estate Red blend. It’s sister label, Open Range, produces Sav Blanc and a red blend as well. Winemaker Laura Barrett is an exciting, young women winemaker, who started her career in New Zealand. Receiving her Masters in Enology from neaby UC Davis, Laura joined Casey Flat Ranch in 2008. When you arrive at the base of the mountain, it is clear that you are not in traditional wine country any more. This is cattle country! Expecting cowboys to come meandering down the hillside, we were greeted by the 2013 Estate Syrah Rosé instead. This bright and fresh rosé is a lovely alternative to pinot noir rose, and is bursting with blood orange, red berry, and fresh, juicy peaches. It’s got a lushness and fullness of body that just makes my heart go pitter patter! I love a Syrah rose, and this was no exception. At $18, it’s a great front porch sipper, and perfect for barbeques. Once at the top of the mountain, at the luxe ranch house, we were eagerly waiting for our lunch, prepared specifically to pair with the wines by Thomas McNaughton, executive chef of SF cult hotspots flour + water, Central Kitchen, and Salumeria. Swoon! Our first course of a Spring Vegetable Salad was perfectly paired with the 2013 Sav Blanc. The crisp, tropical refresher with strong floral and herbal notes. Fermentation is started in tanks, and neutral barrels and stainless steel barrels age the wine sur lie. Next up, King Salmon with the 2013 Viognier. On a warm day, the light and refreshing Viognier has stone fruit up front, Golden Delicious apples, and beautiful minerality under the fruit. This was Casey Flat Ranch’s second single varietal bottling, and I think they did a wonderful job with the 50% neutral […]
It 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
Today is the day before Summer officially starts. Here in the Bay Area, summer has a tenancy to be a bit confused, and we’ve had some amazing weather, then cold weather, then amazing weather, then fog, then… As confused as it can be, Summer to me is the time to drink Rose and think pink. There is a lot of pink wine out there, but not every pink is the same. Rose wines can vary from just barely pink, almost clear, to deep, rich, translucent ruby. Every grape under the sun has been made in to a rose wine, but the most common are Piont Noir, Grenache, Syrah, and a smattering of other grapes such as Cab Franc and Mourvedre. Typically, my personal favorites are Grenache and Pinot Noir rose, but there is a very special crop of pink Syrah out there that makes my heart go pitter patter! Each year, Cornerstone Napa creates the Stepping Stone Corallina is a beautiful women of distinction, created from the Syrah fruit from Napa Valley. And each year, General Manager Craig Camp, promises me that it is the best year ever. Last year, I didn’t think that the team at Cornerstone could possible top the 2012. But, it seems that they have done it with the 2013! The 2013 Corallina Napa Valley Syrah Rosé is made as Cornerstone processes their white wines, where the Syrah is kept in whole clusters and gently pressed to maintain complexity and the nuances of a purpose made rose. A bone dry rosé , this beauty bears no relation to the sweet, sticky White Zinfandels that are still (unfortunately) mostly closely associated with rose wine. The light, fresh, and crisp Corallina has bright watermelon, Tuscan melon, and blood orange notes with an interesting fresh tomato note that was at once, unexpected and delicious. The refreshing crispness of the Syrah has bright cherry notes, floral aromas, and an edge of herbaciousness that keep you guessing. At only $25, I can drink this all summer. Bright and juicy, it is perfect for summer sipping with everything from barbecued chicken to burgers, and can stand up to salted watermelon salad, and rich cheeses as well. Corallina was given to me by the winery as a press sample, but clearly I love this beautiful women. For more Rosés of Summer, keep watching every Friday! Google