This, the third day of the Santa Barbara Vintners Road Trip Los Angeles, was dedicated to Rhone style varieties. All of the events took place at République.
The seminar I went to focused on Roussanne and Grenache. The thinking was, Syrah and Viognier are well established, so why not highlight two varietals less known in the region?
The three Roussannes (above), showed how different this wine can be. At the left is the 2014 Roussanne/Grenache Blanc blend from Andrew Murray, made with grapes from the Curtis Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Grenache Blanc can lift the weightier varieties, supplying acidity and a citrus quality, Murray said.
The wine next to it is the 2013 Roussanne La Presa Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, from Casa Dumetz. Deep gold and full bodied, it came from an area that takes longer to warm up, is hot in the day and cools down faster than other locations.
"It's a tricky variety to pick," said winemaker Sonja Magdevski, because a bunch can be ripe on one side and unripe on the other.
On the right in the photo is the Qupé 2012 Roussanne Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley. Roussanne "is not an easy wine to sell," said winemaker Bob Lindquist, because many consumers have never heard of it. Nevertheless, it is Qupé's most important white wine and the most expensive to produce and sell, he said.
Then the seminar moved on to Grenache. The wine on the left is the Tercero 2011 Grenache Larner Vineyard, Ballard Canyon. This is "my favorite Grenache that I've made up to this point," said winemaker Larry Schaffer. He made only three barrels--75 cases. His goal was to build aromatic complexity. The challenge in dealing with Grenache, he said, "is to just let it be."
"I live and breathe Grenache," said Mikael Sigouin, who brought the Kaena 2013 Grenache from Larner Vineyard, Ballard Canyon. It's the wine in the center of the three and in the glass above. "Grenache is one of my favorite grapes for expressing the site," he said. To make this wine, he softened the tannins and pumped up the aromatics. "The biggest thing for Grenache is tannin management," he said.
The last in the Grenache line-up was the Beckmen 2013 Grenache Purisima Mountain Vineyard, Ballard Canyon. The wine was blended with a small amount of Syrah and saw some oak. Aromatically rich, it exemplified what Beckmen said about winemaking: "When you take a grape and push it to an extreme, you can be rewarded."