The Rhône River Valley in southeastern France is a BIG place: 165K acres of BIG, and about 150 miles from north to south. About 5% of this region is considered “northern Rhône” featuring Syrah and Viognier, and 95% is “Southern Rhône” featuring Grenache and an assortment of other red and white grapes including Mourvedre, Cinsault, Marsanne, and Rousanne (which I will be writing about next week). The smaller northern region has a more moderate continental climate with a focus on Syrah with fresh acidity; the southern is more mediteranean and warm and allows challenging grapes like Mourvede to ripen. Continue reading
I love grenache. I love it alone, and I love it blends. I love old vines, and new. I love grenache as an ice (seriously!) and as a rose.
- 1. Grenache has nice body, heft, weight.
- 2. Grenache is supple and rich.
- 3. Grenache has lots of strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry fruit.
- 4. Grenache can have a nice spicy kick to it!
- 5. Grenache has a pretty rosey garnet color.
- 6. Grenache goes great with pink and white meats like lamb, pork loin, salmon, but you can also enjoy it with a beef stew.
- 7. Grenache blends well with other wines.
One of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties on the planet, grenache vines get better with age.
Today is a great day to celebrate all things grenache because Continue reading
For Wine Blogging Wednesday #75 Joe Robert’s prompt on 1 Wine Dude says:
- Your mission is to procure a wine produced from grapes grown in a single vineyard, and tell the world about it on March 21st.
- You can pick any wine style, made from any grape(s), hailing from any region of the world
- The only catch is that the wine’s grapes should come from a single vineyard. The point is to get as close to a wine coming from one single plot of land as you can, to emphasize how what’s special about that place on Earth gets transmitted to you through that wine
I planned to visit Roll Ranch in the upper Ojai Valley in Ventura County and talk about The Ojai Vineyard‘s wines made from grapes grown there.
But I Just Flat Ran Out of Time. Instead I did the next best thing–I got Annie Any-Day to come over to taste two wines from Ojai Vineyard’s Roll Ranch with me.
Why Annie? Because she had her horses up in Ojai for fifteen years and worked at Rancho Fino in the upper Ojai for nearly two years taking care of 50 Paso Fino horses, horses that can dance to flamenco music, almost like thunder. She has a lot of time on the land, quality time.
When she says that the Ojai Vineyard Viognier reminds her of sweet oat hay from Ojai, she has a certain authority that few have. That oat hay quality is the best oat hay in the world she says–and again she should know, having 40 years experience with horses. It has the most vitality to it, she says, you can feed it to your horses and they feel good. “I would eat it!” she admits with a giggle.
The Ojai Valley gets a lot of sun. In fact it’s famous for its sunny days. It is sunny almost every day of the year. Because the upper Ojai gets so much sun makes it great for sweet oak hay says Annie.
All that sunshine, plus the soil, provides certain conditions which have been harnessed by Adam Tolmach and his basically hands-off approach in his Roll Ranch Viognier and Syrah which I opened last night for the Rhone Rangers twitter tasting hosted by @WilliamSonoma aka William Allen and celebrating the Rhone Rangers event this weekend in San Francisco. Here’s a link to Rhone Rangers tickets and info. Read more about the Rhone event in SF and other things Rhone on William’s blog “Simple Hedonisms.”
The viognier is the color of Ojai sweet oat hay, says Annie, a light golden color, with no green to it. Because the land gets so much sun, the hay is so sweet. But because it is so cool at night, it’s excellent for the grapes.
While I’m down in Ventura cursing the cold foggy evenings, the land is exhaling, and inhaling, drawing the ocean air inland, and the grapes in upper Ojai cool down.
The nose of the Ojai Vineyards Viognier is honeysuckle pineapple, lemon zest, fresh like linens off the line. It gives you a run for your money! In the mouth, it swirls around and tingles your tongue, like when you eat pineapple, and makes you want to Buddha laugh because there’s a spiritual element, a connection with the earth–you feel a clarity like after meditation. It’s an energetic, uplifting wine, it grabs you and makes you alert, elevating your spirit. It offers a full mouth-feel, more in the center of the palate. The finish is velvety, smooth, lingering. Overall, the wine is subtle and graceful, not overwhelming and cloying like some viogniers. Barrel fermented in older oak barrels for 11 months on lees and completing a second ML, there’s definitely some vanilla here and a wonderful richness. The winemaker says it could handle 10 years in cellar.
2005 Roll Ranch Syrah: I could just sniff this 2005 Roll Ranch Syrah all day–it smells that good. Annie says the layers it exhibits reminds her of the striped Topa Topas–the one that hosts the iconic pink moment, the mountain range behind the Ojai Valley. When you’re in the upper Ojai, the air is so clear you feel as if the mountains are close enough to touch.
There’s a legend attributed to the Chumash that says all you need to do is hang your head over the top of the Topas, and the wind will take your cares away.
Well, this wine is a lot easier to climb then the Topas and will accomplish the same goal. Just take one whiff, let the smell of this syrah expand in your lungs and release the stress from your mind. Drinking this wine is like watching a glass blower take a blob of material and turn it into something intricate, expansive, amazing.
That same hot summer Ojai sun that makes that sweet oat grass hay ripens the Roll Ranch fruit into a super intense mind blowing expansive experience. It smells like a sunny day in a blackberry field–warm, earthy, ripe, rich, with plenty of tannins to balance and let you out this one away for years. You can smell your wine 6″ from your nose–you can smell your neighbor’s wine. If you’re using the right glass, that is–more on wine glasses in a post soon!
Ojai’s transverse range is one of the few places in the world where black oil seeps out of the ground and there’s a bit of that oily, petroleum earth and graphite plus a bit of warm cedar in the wine:
You don’t have to go sit in a mineral spa–just sip this syrah and you’ll get all the benefits of soaking in a hot tub!
This syrah is viscous like oil and it rolls off your tongue, offers plenty of black and blue fruit, and the finish lasts and lasts with a black cherry on top. Just a superb wine, in a gorgeous bottle with a deep punt and massive shoulders built to carry it over time. It’s almost a shame that I opened this 2005 syrah in 2012–it could have gone for a few more years!
Just because I didn’t get to visit Roll Ranch for this blog post doesn’t mean I’ve given up on going there. Look for part two in this series of posts about Ojai Vineyard’s Roll Ranch. I plan to take horsewoman Annie Any-Day and geologist Bacchus Schmaccus with me; we’ll probably hook up with an assistant winemaker and maybe a cellar rat! Who knows, they might even put us to work out there before we retire to the tasting room in Ojai! Subscribe (that’s the box in the upper right hand corner) and you get part 2 in your in-box!
I’m fortunate to live in the prime grape growing and wine producing region of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties–and, until just recently, just a few miles away from the Grateful Palate warehouse facility in Oxnard (it’s now in Fairfield near Napa).
I’ve long been a fan of Adam Tolmach’s Ojai Vineyard from back in the day when I had a print column “The Art Predator” for a weekly where I reviewed art shows, restaurants and whatever took my fancy, and was paid primarily in trade, mostly food and drink (I could never say I was a starving artist.)
We had lots of trade at an Ojai restaurant which carried Adam Tolmach’s wines and I was thrilled to get to know many of them by the glass. It seemed that wine maker Tolmach often dropped off the odd bottle or two of wine that wouldn’t find its way onto a typical list or store. In particular, I remember being floored by one of his syrahs back in 1998.
So when I learned that Michael Meagher was a disciple of Adam Tolmach and was making his own wines under the Vino V label (V as in Ventura), that his limited edition wines (600 cases) are carried by restaurants like Campanile, and that his daughter was in my son’s kindergarten class, I wanted to get my hands on some and try it!
Two questions: Where do you cellar your wine? And what should I drink from mine?
in the late 1950s, my grandfather built a wine cellar into the hillside of his house, the floor made from water-washed Japanese stones used as ballast in a ship almost a hundred years ago.
He enjoyed his wine, but it didn’t take anything too exotic to please him–he drank chianti by the jug, the more unusual or interesting wines in the cellar supplied by friends. One day I will inventory what’s there and see if any of it is drinkable, much less valuable for more than a conversation or two.
Conveniently for me, my grandfather’s nearly empty wine cellar is less than a mile from my house as the crow flies, right up the hill from where we live near the beach. It’s just far enough away to keep me from ransacking it regularly, and it allows me to forget exactly what’s in there allowing the wine to age well past what it would if it was underneath our house which also maintains cellar like temperatures most of the year.
For this Remy Charest’s Wine Blogging Wednesday, I decided to do syrahs (no surprise to anyone who knows my fondness for them!), and to compare Vino V’s White Hawk syrah with something from Down Under. So yesterday I headed up to the cellar to see what I had stored that would be a worthy competitor to Michael Meagher’s wine. Continue reading