March 2018 Wine Club Release
by Sommelier Josh French
Rickshaw Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 kicks off Josh’s selection this quarter. This is the 3rd quarter that we have released a wine to Wine Club before it is available to general public. I like this wine because the maker takes a pretty minimal approach to the wine making. The idea of tapping into some great sources and make varietal-true and focused wines. Rickshaw describes their process in-depth, “However, the one part where we get to really flex some skills is during the blending process. Sometimes we weave together as many as two dozen different lots selected for cooperage, oak age, vineyards, and vineyard blocks. In the case of our Cabernet Sauvignon, we even have the option of using small pieces of other Bordeaux varietals to make it just so.”
Rickshaw Cabernet is a compelling wine from the get-go with a potpourri of aromas including macerated cherries, violets, bay, and cocoa. It’s followed by flavors of black cherry, framboise, chocolate covered espresso bean, and plum. The wine carries through with good length and a certain refreshment that invites the next sip.
My next pick is a 100% Chardonnay comprised of 15 different blocks. Cambria is a family-owned, estate winery located in the heart of the famed Santa Maria bench in Santa Barbara County. Bolstered by several decades of diligent wine making and vineyard experience, Cambria’s wines faithfully express the unique stamp of one of the finest cool-climate curs in California.
The 2014 vintage was near ideal yet again, characterized by a dry winter and a warmer than average spring and summer. While harvest began relatively early, moderate temperatures and minimal rain allowed for exceptional grapes with ample ripeness, flavor and texture.
Each of the 15 blocks of Chardonnay, planted in sand and granite soils, are farmed on an individual basis. The expression from each block is wholly unique. The resulting wine shows a Chardonnay with a spectrum of fruit flavors ranging from mango to Meyer lemon and a rich texture framed by refreshing natural acidity.
This Chardonnay pairs well with a fair range of seafood from crab and lobster, shrimp, fried calamari, and grilled salmon. It also pairs well with cow’s milk cheeses such as mild cheddar, Comte, Gruyere, Brie and Camembert or triple crème.
This 100% Riesling comes from Rheinhessen, Germany. The Heinz Eifel ‘Shine’ Riesling is made from grapes harvested on the sloping hillsides of Germany’s prime wine growing regions. The winding rivers running alongside these vineyards reflect sunlight, which help to ripen the Riesling throughout the long cool growing season.
In 2015 the weather conditions in June were much better and the bloom was completed by mid/end of the month. After a rainy July fortunately the summer came in August with hot and dry weather, followed by a great September and record high temperatures in October with more than 70° on several days. That means ideal conditions to fully ripen the grapes. The Riesling harvest started mid of October and was finished beginning of November. The number of high-quality wine vintages in the Mosel winegrowing region continues. Must weights are often late and reading area. After the moderate temperatures in summer the autumn still brought the “Golden October” – just in time for the late ripening Riesling grapes on the steep slopes of the Mosel River. The Riesling grapes had a very long ripening phase, which greatly benefit the fruit and aroma characteristics. The state of health of the grapes was particularly pleasing as it provided best possible prerequisites for top wines in all quality grades. Wine lovers can look forward to distinctively fruity, well balanced white wines.
The wine comes off sweet, with bright, crisp flavors of green apple, pear and peach. This wine is best served fully chilled, and can be enjoyed before a meal or with spicier Asian cuisine.
The second wine in this offering comes to us from a region in France, in the southern portion of Burgundy. More specifically, the appellation of Macon-Villages brings us Louis Jadot. For those who find Chardonnay too oak driven or buttery, this 100% Chardonnay might just change your mind on what Chardonnay can be. With weather and soil being big flavor influences on wine, Burgundy’s 2015 year began with a mild, wet winter and spring, for what turned out to be a hot, dry summer. The rain that did fall in summer was uneven and the dry temperatures temporarily stopped grapes from ripening. This made the yields low, while still letting excellent white wines to be produced.
In winery parlance, “odd lots” are the wines that haven’t yet found a home. Odd Lot Petite-Petit is playful, fun and approachable. Odd Lot is an unorthodox blend of Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot. “Our wine making approach is unconventional and our team has the latitude to explore, in service of making something delicious. Whimsical and even irreverent parameters guide our blending process: rules are meant to be broken and everything is up for consideration. The final result is an audacious and off beat partnership of Petite-Petit that also happens to make an enticing, big red blend.”
The Monterey region is defined by morning fog, strong winds, broad temperature swings and intense sunshine. The warmer inland temperatures are moderated by the powerful influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean, which averages 50° throughout the year. In Hames Valley, the triad of fog, strong winds and bright sunlight promote the cultivation of Petite Sirah to delicious result. The long, warm days allow full-bodied, dark fruit favors to develop while the dramatic nighttime cooling preserves the balance and structure of this big, bold wine.
Odd Lot wines are independently certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) through their Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW) program, the international organization GLOBAL G.A.P through their G.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices) certification as well as by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The palate I full bodied for this wine but has soft tannins and a black fruit that lingers pleasantly. Peppercorn crusted beef, rosemary lamb chops, spiced grilled eggplant, and even manchego cheese would benefit from being paired with this wine
The second wine in the red category is on the other end of the spectrum. This is a red Moscato named Serena. The grapes are hand-picked in small baskets around the first weekend in September. They are then de-stemmed and squeezed, followed by maceration on skins for about 24-36 hours before being pressed. The must is filtered and refrigerated at 32° and stored until fermentation. After a few months and only with the markets request, production is started. The must is transferred to temperature controlled steel autoclaves and warmed back to 70° for fermentation with selected yeasts added to turn the sugars into alcohol. Once it has reached 5-7% alcohol, fermentation is stopped by refrigeration around 35°. This method preserves the perfect balance of acidity, sugars and alcohol. lt goes through a sterol micro filtration where the remaining yeast is removed and the pure fresh wine is ready for bottling.
Serena is a versatile wine with aromas of rose and an accent of rhubarb-strawberry pie. On the palate, the wine has raspberry and cherry flavors with a rich mid-palate and lingering, complex finish. Lightly “frizzante”, Serena has the perfect balance between sweetness and acidity. Served fully chilled, it is ideal with desserts especially those with fruit and also an enjoyable aperitif.