While he has become known for his insanely delicious Petite Sirahs from Paso Robles, winemaker Aaron Jackson has recently expanded his portfolio and added some new flavors! AEQUOREA - which means "of the sea" in Latin - is focused on single vineyard wines from extreme coastal vineyards amidst San Luis Obispo County.
Making Viognier is always such a challenge for Aaron, in that he aims for a style so much different than what is typically produced in California. Instead, he strives to make a Viognier that showcases what can be done with the variety on the extremes of the coast where it struggles to ripen. At only 2 miles from the ocean in Pismo Beach, Spanish Springs is on the edge of where Viognier can be grown. Super aromatic, floral, and loaded with brightness and minerality, the 2018 features a racy profile of white stone fruit, snappy citrus, freshly cut pineapple, and an amazing finish. The strong beam of natural acidity gives it freshness for days.
With the summer sun making (heat) waves and the June gloom hopefully gone, it's time to focus on refreshing wines for the warm season. Of course, we're leading with this amazing Rose from Washington State, part of a collaboration between Charles Smith (K Vintners, Charles Smith Wines) and Charles Bieler (Three Thieves, BIEL-ER Pere et Fils & Gotham Project). Made from 71% Syrah, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Mourvedre, 4% Gre-nache, 2% Counoise and 1% Cinsault, the sum of these parts makes for a beautiful, thirst-quenching wine with great underlying acidity; in other words, the perfect wine to feature for July (and the stylized American flag label certainly is apropos!).
To ensure minimal color or tannin pick up from the moment the fruit is harvested until it arrives at the winery, they pick almost exclusively at night. Once in the winery, each tank is treated a little differently to ensure each has its own unique perspective so that when it's blended together they have the most complex and multi layered Rose they can. While utilizing a mix of different yeasts, they have been loving the depth and character that native fermentations are giving so over half are now native. The resulting wine has both cut and generosity, lift and energy, and we are loving it! As always, the balance between the acidity at the finish and the savory, citrus and tangy cherry are the dominant features.
The nose leads with lush fruits, watermelon, peach and mixed orchard fruit punch finishing with a touch of salinity, hints of apple and rose petal. The mouthfeel is lush and rich with beautiful sweet fruits dancing across the tongue. Watermelon, strawberry cream and white peach lead to plum punch and a touch of créme fraîche. Excellent acidity keeps the wine lively and uplifted on the palate. The finish is clean, rounded and refreshing-- reiterating sweet spring fruits that last and last. Stock up on this one for summer! Perfect for Independence Day par-ties and beyond.
Fragrant, alluring and exotic, Viognier is a rarity in Napa Valley. Darioush Signature Viognier expresses its inherently bright and vibrant character when grown from the cooler locales of Oak Knoll and Los Carneros where dense early morning fog and late afternoon breezes allow this delicate variety to ripen slowly and completely. The hallmark of Signature Viognier is its effusive floral aromatics and core of juicy stone fruit.
The Delmore 2018 Syrah is from the dry-farmed Stolo Vineyard and CCOF-certified Boulder Ridge vineyard: both wildly cool climate sites in California. I co-fermented 5% Viognier into both lots and aged the finished wine in three neutral French Oak barrels. Easily my finest effort to date.
"This is possibly the most savory rendition of Syrah made on the Central Coast, each vintage as feral as the last,” noted Matt Kettmann, contributing editor to Wine Enthusias"
JEB DUNNUCK 94 POINTS - This estate makes beautiful whites, and the 2018 Estate White checks in as 47% Grenache Blanc, 42% Viognier, and 11% Roussanne. It has a fruit-forward, fleshy style as well as pure notes of pineapple, white peach, tangerine, honeysuckle, and salty minerality. With beautiful balance, integrated acidity, and a great finish, it has the class to stand nicely on its own yet will also shine on a dinner table.
Winemaker Evan Frazier started the Ferdinand label in 2010 with just 56 cases of Albarino. Introduced to winemaking in 2006 by Abe Schoener of the Scholium Project, that year Evan worked his first harvest, in the Roussillon (Maury, France), with ancient Carignan and Grenache vines. Ferdinand is made in the Kongsgaard cellar on Atlas Peak (Napa, CA) where Evan is the General Manager for Kongsgaard Wines and has worked with John Kongsgaard since 2008.
Markus Bokisch decided to plant his own vineyards east of Lodi after beginning his career carefully farming some of the best vines in Napa. Probably the foremost authority on Spanish varieties in California, his family is from Spain and he looked to those roots when he planted Albariño, Tempranillo, Garnacha Blanca, Verdelho, and Graciano. The Vista Luna site is uniquely situated far to the northeast of Lodi in the rolling benchland at the edge of the Sierra foothills. It is known for its cobbled, rocky soil and the cooling breezes which blow from the Delta to the Sierras. Other wineries working with fruit from Vista Luna include Turley, Neyers, Scholium Project, Forlorn Hope, and Mark Herold Wines.
Gently whole cluster pressed and barrelled down to neutral barrels, the wine ferments spontaneously with native yeasts and no temperature manipulation. Malolactic is arrested with S02 to preserve freshness and the wine spends 8 months on primary lees with no stirring. Light gold color, this wine is balanced and attractively fragrant, with a savory and floral aspect that includes orange peel and lime zest, lemongrass, quince and grapefruit aromas and flavors. Lees aging in neutral oak gives the wine finesse, sophistication, and a hint of nuttiness a pleasing complement to the varieties balance of natural acidity, slight bitterness, and salty finish.
Counoise is a varietal from the Rhone Valley of France, just like Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre also hail from that region. Counoise is typically used in blending, and not bottled on its own. Why?...Frankly, because most people don't know techniques to produce a Counoise that is good enough on its own. However, our man Curt from Sans Liege and Groundwork figured out a way to coax the best attributes from this grape to put into the bottle!
Curt utilized 70% whole cluster fermentation on native yeast in open top 1.5 ton fermentors helped by pumpovers to get color, flavor, and aromatics. He also employed something called carbonic maceration, a technique that results in fresher, more vibrant aromatics and fruit flavors. The result is a wine that has bright fresh notes of rhubarb and pomegranate. Young violets, tri-tip tartare & grilled sourdough. Hint of cherry chapstick with a juicy palate and lively finish. He recommends to serve this slightly below room temp. This one is meant for more immediate pleasure!
Just in case you haven't been reading our newsletters these past years, you are missing out on one of the great "up and comers" in Paso Robles. Nestled in the rolling hills on the "Westside" of Paso, Halter Ranch's sustainably-farmed vineyards have provided fruit to some of the more prominent names in the area...but they are now keeping more of the fruit for themselves. In fact, SoCal native Kevin Sass has become their winemaker after proving his skills at Justin for the past decade!
Roses from California are more and more popular every year. Producers are finally giving attention to these wines, and some of them rival the best from France! Halter Ranch is one of those quality Rose producers, and the proof is in the requests we get for this wine every year. The new release has landed, and it is every bit as good as previous renditions!
Reminiscent of Roses from the Southern Rhone, this Grenache-based blend has aromas of wild strawberry and guava. Refreshing on the palate, this wine features aromas of wild strawberry, watermelon and guava. On the palate, the flavors are a blend of tropical fruits and fresh citrus, with a bright and crisp minerality. Delicious on its own, this wine also pairs well with prosciutto and melon, salmon and light pasta dishes.
Fresh and lively, this beauty offers aromas of stone fruit, honeydew melon, balsam fir, and white rose. The mineral-laced palate pulses with flavors of Meyer lemon, quince, and botanicals, while the finish perfectly balances richness and tension. Fermented and aged for 4 months in concrete tanks.
Orin Swift considers this wine to be the culmination of a thirteen-year process. From 2000-2012 Dave Phinney spent countless hours in the vineyards and in blending trials working to perfect The Prisoner. He has taken all that knowledge, both the trials and tribulations, and diligently applied it to Abstract. With The Prisoner chapter of winemaking behind him, orin Swift feels as if a natural progression has been made and an evolution has occurred. Orin Swift's ongoing pursuit of choice vineyards throughout California resulted in some extraordinary Grenache, along with exquisite Petit Sirah, and Syrah that was assembled together into an artful collage both in and outside of the bottle.
Aromatics with gravity, the wine pulls you in with notes of blueberry, black fig,
bloodied strawberry and hints of musk and rhubarb. Bold on the entry, the palate
exudes rich notes of dark plum and ripe framboise with a slightly chalky texture. The
wine transitions effortlessly to a finish of black cherry, sweet licorice and some quick
This is a wine that is characterized by notes of bright honeysuckle and orange blossom with hints of jasmine, apple and citrus zest. The lively entry leading to a mid-palate weight and a lengthy finish, makes this wine perfect with food or on its own.
A blend of 76% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, and 4% Counoise, the 2018 Patelin de Tablas Rose is a vibrant light peach color. On the nose are spicy aromatics of nectarine, grapefruit pith, sea spray, and crushed rock. The mouth is bright with flavors of yellow raspberry and blood orange, with mouthwatering acidity giving focus to a long finish with flavors of lemon drop, briny mineral, and a little rose petal florality. Drink now and over the next year.
Tablas Creek Vineyard was founded by the Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel and Robert Haas of Vineyard Brands to produce California's best examples of southern Rhone varietals and Chateauneuf du Pape style blends. The partners chose a 120-acre property in the limestone hills of west Paso Robles and imported new clones of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, etc., from the Beaucastel estate, and farms their estate organically.
The vineyards and resulting wines showed such purity, intensity, and complexity that the neighbors of Tablas Creek began to plant new vineyards using vines that were propagated from those Beaucastel vines. Tablas Creek's Patelin red, white, and rose are made from grapes harvested from their neighbors' vineyards, and these have become some of the best values in the entire Paso Robles region! This year, it was their rose that stood out like a full moon on a clear night.
When you drink French rose, Grenache or Mourvedre are typically the dominant grapes, so it makes sense that Paso Robles (being a hotbed for Rhone varietals) would make their own roses. We have sampled quite a few of them this year, and while there are definitely some winners, Tablas Creek's is at the top of our list! Dry, crisp, and lower in alcohol (13.0%), this wine definitely is French in style!
Consisting of 58% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre, and 2% Cinsault, this Bandol-inspired Rose is a beauty, featuring aromas and flavors of citrus and stone fruits, highlighted by cherry, watermelon rind, grapefruit, nectarine and peach flavors. The wine has firm balancing acidity and both inviting aromas and a long finish on the palate. The medium bodied frame is layered, textured, balanced and elegant, and the wine will drink well on release or age for 5-7 years. It is a perfect accompaniment to a wide variety of seafood, pasta and fowl and best served at or slightly above cellar temperature.