Sue is big on bidding at silent wine auctions and other charity raffles. And often she wins!
Last year at the Ojai Wine Festival, Sue saw this library vertical from Ranchita Canyon and won these lovely three red wine blends. When we were brainstorming what we should do for Open That Bottle Night which rolls around on the final Saturday of February, she volunteered to share these — and to make a lasagna to pair with them! Plans to open three bottles plus lasagna called for a party, and so Marshall and I went to Sue’s house near the Ojai Valley Meadow Preserve to join John and his brother Barry plus Edie.
Along the way, we learned that Ranchita Canyon Vineyard is a small family run vineyard and winery you’ll find nestled in the north-eastern hills of the Paso Robles appellation. Most of their grapes they grow to sell, but select blocks they save to make their own wines, owner Bill Hinrichs says in an email. The label states “the grapes thrive in the chalky limestone soil and produce high quality fruit from vines that have been tended with the utmost care.”
“The Ranchita Red is our every day house wine,” states Bill about the wine they first started making in 2005. “We wanted a lower priced wine, and just put together five varietals that we felt were not needed for other purposes. This has become our tradition with using five varietals, and different every year. We just feel that if you blend good wine with good wine, you will end up with good wine.”
Bill reports that since 2009 they have made six blends and each have their own story. In addition to the popular Ranchita Red, the other five are a Super Tuscan; a Bordeaux blend with all five primary varieties; a Petit Verdot and Malbec blend called Duette; a Cab Sauv and Petit Verdot blend called Smooth Operator; and a Grenache / Petite Sirah blend named GPS.
“These blends are developed through tasting each year,” says Bill, “with Teresa and myself primarily doing the sampling to put the blends together.”
“We are having fun,” says Bill. And that’s possibly most important!
With all steps done by hand, they produce hand crafted wines compliment many foods: one of the great things about of lasagna is that there are so many different flavors that marry together and make a complex meal that pairs with many red wines. Surprisingly, we don’t do it more often! It was a wonderful foil for these three wines, and next time we do it I swear I will get Sue to give up her recipe!
2009 – Ranchita Red – Red wine – 14.4%
28% Sangiovese 20% Petite Sirah 20% Zinfandel 20% Cabernet Pfeffer 14% Cabernet Franc
We really liked this wine. There was a richness to this wine, but not like a zinfandel. There was a really nice balance to this wine.
color – dense, like theatre curtains; when the light hits it, it shimmers.
nose – sage, dried red chili pepper, cedar, cherry cola; Edie got vegetal almost like tomato. Lots of herbal qualities.
palate – cherry cola, rich tannins, very nice complex wine, earthy minerality, chalk, nice mineral, espresso, coffee richness, I also got espresso, Edie felt there was a Cabernet feel to this wine.
Barrie felt that it was soft cherry. I got anise on the palate enhanced by the fennel in the sausage, plus Sue seasoned the meat with wild fennel sea salt. The bell peppers in the veggie lasagna was fantastic with this wine.
Sue: While this wine was wonderful with the sausage lasagna, it was so, so good with the veggie lasagna, the vegetal combination brought out so much flavor in the wine.
With its full body, you could also pair it with a Santa Maria style BBQ and a brilliant sunset.
2008 – Ranchita Red – Red Wine – 14.4%
48% Sangiovese, 17% Petite Verdot, 12% Malbec, 12% Cabernet Pfeffer, 11% Petite Sirah
color – these wines are similar in density in color and density. The color is dense. Edie felt it had the heaviness of welches grape juice.
This was the least impressive of the three vintages for me, however it went perfectly with the meal, because of the complex flavors of the lasagna. Sue got lots of minty sagey herbs on the nose. even rosemary, and I also noted the bright herbals.
palate – Sue got mint and more cooked fruit on this vintage. There is a meatiness on this wine. Lots of earthy qualities. I found it spritely and bright possibly due to the minerality. The finish is like cocoa powder, dry, chalky,
This vintages yearns for food more than the 2009 vintage. When paired with the lasagna, this wine is perfectly fantastic.
2007 – Ranchita Red – Red Wine –
54% sangiovese, 15% petite verdot, 11% malbec, 10% merlot, 10% petite sirah
color – again very rich and dense, similar to the other vintages,
nose – berries and herb, super minty
palate -sour pie cherries, on the front of the palate. This is a very drinkable wine. After opening up for a while, this wine is so so smooth, with some mint on the palate.
This is a $20 red blend that is 12 years old: you would not normally think to lay this wine down. What a great investment. This is such an approachable wine.
These big dense grapes that they are using makes for a big dense wine.
Now Sue and I really need to go visit Ranchita Canyon Vineyards!
At the end of the evening, we were surprised that more people did not drink more of the 2007 as this was such a favorite!
While these wines were amazing, they were not necessarily dessert wines, The pie while not too sweet with the mascarpone to make it rich, was not a good pair with this wine.
The Ranchita Red wants a savory profile to make it perfect. It loves spices and herbs, or a wonderful cheese plate
This evening was a lot of fun! Thanks Sue for hosting us and for providing the wines and for making the lasagne!
More Open That Bottle Night Pairings
- Be sure to check out all the special wine and food that was paired with it by checking out these Wine Pairing Weekend #OTBN blog posts!
- Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog will post “A Journey To Iberia And Beyond for Open That Bottle Night #WinePW”
- Lori from Dracaena Wines shares “Emotion, Not Money or Age for this #OTBN #WinePW“
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm posted “Instant Pot Irish Stew with a White Cheddar Crust #EattheWorld #winePW #OTBN”
- Jane from Always Ravenous served “Chicken Breasts in a Tart Cherry Pinot Noir Sauce #winePW #OTBN“
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla paired “Brisket over Butter-Braised Leeks + Hundred Suns’ Ciel du Cheval 2015“
- Nicole from Somm’s Table will share “The Big 10, Champagne, Burgundy, and #OTBN.”
- David from Cooking Chat will post “Roasted Lamb Chops with Blackberry Sauce for #OTBN #winePW“
- Don’t have a blog post about #OTBN to share? No problem! Join the conversation about #OTBN and special wine and food pairings by joining our live Twitter chat. Tune into the #winePW hashtag on Saturday, March 10, 11 am ET / 8 am PT to join the conversation.
- You can also check out past and future #winePW topics on the Wine Pairing Weekend page. Get ready for the April #winePW which will be on “Exploring the Wines of Navarra Spain“, hosted by ME here on Wine Predator.
- For background on #OTBN, visit our Open That Bottle Night Invite post.