Category: Wine 101
Why Temecula Wineries Like Wilson Creek Are Good For Creating Rose
Grenache Grapes Grown in Temecula
There are two main families of Grenache. There is the French-style Grenache and then the Tinto Grenache out of Spain. Both really like the heat, which makes them great for growing in Temecula. Currently, we have about 3-4 acres of the more traditional Grenache out of France and we just planted 5 acres of Tinto Grenache, which will provide a bit more color and richness and ultimately allow us to create a true varietal Grenache. Grenache is a very versatile grape that can be used as a great blending grape or varietal; it adds a nice essence to each wine it is blended with. It is also a very plentiful grape where we get a lot of yield and that makes it great for creating a lot of exciting wines.
One of the unique aspects of Grenache is that it can be grown in all sorts of climates, but it only truly ripens and gets mature in warmer climates. So, when you see an expression of Grenache in Temecula it is outside of the usual expectation of places where Grenache is harvested. Much of the Grenache we know is from places like Provence where it is harvested when it is younger because many of the wine-growing regions in the world are much further North and it doesn’t have the climate to reach full maturity. This has a lot to do with old world and modern day refrigeration. Old world there were only so many places where you could actually store the wine by digging into the side of a hill and then storing your barrels essentially underground to keep them under the 62-degree threshold necessary to store wine. With modern refrigeration you are now able to grow and preserve wines in varying climates, which allow them to fully mature in growing regions like Temecula.
Why Chardonnay is a Great Grape To Grow in the Temecula Valley Wine Country
Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape in the world. It is adaptable from cool regions like Chablis in the northwestern region of Burgundy or even England to Mediterranean climates like Southern California and Australia. The name comes from the village of Chardonnay, Saône-et-Loire France, and is said to originate from the Latin word for the abundant Thistles in the region, carduus.
Wine Tasting: The Varying Tastes of Chardonnay by Climate
These two extremes in climate define the two major styles of Chardonnay you see in the tasting room. Cool climates have high acid low sugar, low alcohol, citrus fruit of green apple or pear due to the higher concentrations of malic acid. The wines are dry and often are defined by high levels of minerality. Cool region Chardonnays, including many sparkling wines, are essentially harvested underripe giving them high acid and minerality that need to be paired with food.
With warm climate Chardonnay, the malic acid is reduced; it can be either dry or slightly sweet with higher alcohol. The aromas and flavor tend towards citrus and tropical fruit, honey, butterscotch, buttery and nutty oily flavors with a viscous mouthfeel.
Warmer climate chardonnays are also sometimes oaked, a rarity with white wines. An additional process called malolactic fermentation(ML) is also common with oaked chardonnays. ML is a friendly bacteria that convert the naturally occurring grape acid Malic acid to Lactic acid, the same acid in butterfat, that in combination with vanilla from the oak barrels and you get the unique rich ‘creamy buttery quality of warm climate chardonnay
Warm climate Chardonnays are allowed to develop to full ripeness, which created the tropical fruit flavors. The challenge in the vineyard is to allow the fruit to fully ripen while retaining sufficient acid to avoid a “flabby” wine and to have enough malic acid to convert to lactic acid for that classic buttery Chardonnay. Our regenerative farming practices support a biologically active soil that delivers dense plant nutrients including trace minerals that allow the fruit to fully ripen and retain high levels of acid and minerals creating really good wines.
Wilson Creek Winery: Our Temecula Winery Chardonnays
Yes Dear, Chardonnay
100% estate-grown using regenerative farming practices. During the winemaking process, we blend old vine Chardonnay from behind Rosie Wilson’s house, which has a soft tropical fruit-driven flavor with younger blocks of chardonnay that have higher acid and minerality to get the best of both. Yes Dear is a classic California buttery (ML) style of Chardonnay with notes of tropical fruits, ripe melon and butterscotch.
Spring white is a blend of all of our estate Chardonnay, Viognier, and Muscat varietals. With a base of Chardonnay, Viognier adds structure and acid making this a refreshing palate-cleansing wine. Muscat gives roundness and a floral quality while Roussanne creates a long smooth finish. The combination of the very aromatic Muscat with the flavors of Chardonnay and bright refreshing acids and minerality of Viognier create a complex refreshing wine that pairs well with food or as a refreshing summer sipper.
Wilson Creek Winery Vineyard Update
Cab Sauv Block 1 Influresence – The Calyptra has popped off exposing the pistil and stamen, grapes are self-pollinating, which means we are right at the beginning of flowering season. We have injected 1000 gallons of crab meal, fish meal, etc as fertilizers to prepare for the growing season. We will need some supplemental watering as we didn’t get as much precipitation as needed and the cover crop didn’t quite take off, which usually preserves our moisture in the ground. From a temperature standpoint, it’s been pretty cool, which has been a good start so far. The USDA, NRCS & Metropolitan Water District is asking to partner with us because we are seeing a lot of success with low irrigation and high heat in our vineyards.
Wilson Creek Winery – Sparkling Rose
This is a classic french style rose. In France, most roses are from Provence, which is similar to Temecula and is primarily Chardonnay and Grenache, which is almost identical to how we have blended this wine. We added a touch of French Columbarde to the wine and overall we have created a very nice dry sparkling rose. Some wines are great for drinking in an environment, like a sunset and some are great for food. This wine is one of those great ones that is perfect for both.
Right off the nose the aromatics of this wine really bounce out of the glass with a floral bouquet and the hints of strawberry from the Grenache, which is indicative of the way we make this wine. We use a base Chardonnay that is pressed, which is a beautiful grape for Temecula. We then infuse Grenache grapes that we have left the skin on and press that in, which is what gives us the wonderful taste and color. This is very similar to our Brut in that it is a traditional dry French-style wine. The subtle hint of fruit and aromatics on this makes it a great wine to introduce people who normally don’t like dry wines and they will love it. This will pair well with a fruit salad: honeydew melons, strawberries, cantaloupe, etc.
Wilson Creek Winery – 2019 Viognier
A Rhone Varietal that is grown in the north of rhone. In Temecula, it truly matures, very floral with a hint of white flowers and fruit-driven with subtle tastes of apricot, pitted fruit, peach, honeydew melon with a great balance. This would pair well with seafood and food with spice to it, it neutralizes and works well with Capsaicin. As a varietal, it doesn’t have high tannins because we harvest it sooner.
Viognier is tough to get to maturity, but when it’s ripe it’s beautiful. The Viognier is the last of our whites that we harvest because it does take so much to get it to maturity. This year’s Viognier is really a perfect balance of the past few years in terms of dry and sweet. It pairs really well with sweet peppers, paprika, and mustard flavoring. This is not good to pair with spicy food, because it does have a higher alcohol content.
Wine Fun Fact: In the Rhone Valley, there is an area called the Condrieu, which is the only appellation in France where you are able to produce 100% Viognier or Viognier blends.
How long would you store this: The reason to store a wine typically is to allow the tannins to break down and drive additional characteristics to the wine. With grapes the longer it stays on the vine the more the skin (tannin) of the grape develops. Since it does not develop particularly thick skins this is not a wine that we would suggest typically holding. Max is 2 years. It will develop a more “round” characteristic to it with a bit of storage. Heat, Light, and Movement are the biggest factors that will age your wines faster and to the detriment of the wine. Don’t put your wine above the Fridge!!!! Underneath a staircase in a long deep dark closet is perfect.
Q – This wine tastes sweet, but you have described it as dry – why is that?
A – The Residual Sugar on this is less than .05% – however, it does have a lot of fruit characteristics which make it appear sweet.
Wilson Creek Winery – 2019 Roussanne
A meaty and beefy, white wine. More dense ripe fruit, rich, melons, mandarin oranges, and even a hint of spice – cumin and coriander. If you like Chardonnay then this might make a nice transition into a different wine. Thials – Thick mouth feels – makes for interesting aging.
It’s problematic and needs lots of attention. We are typically ½ done with reds and then come back and get the Roussanne. We actually spray down the Roussanne with catlinite clay in the vineyard to ensure that it can stand the 105-degree temperatures later in the growing season.
Really wants to be paired with Food: White Pepper or Indian Food – Not heat spicy, but more of an aromatic food. Really treads the line of Palate Cleanser and Complimentary Wine to go well with a dish like an herbed chicken, black pepper in a white sauce.
Wilson Creek Winery – Non-Vintage Ecclesia-Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Named after a group of greek politicians – that would get together and share knowledge and have a good time together.
- Cab Sav – 51%
- Petite Syrah- 19%
- Malbec – 14%
- Tannat – 6%
It’s a beautiful mix of young and new fruit It’s incredibly thoughtful, so we would recommend opening it up earlier than you plan on drinking it to allow it to breathe.
Blends are like groups of friends and cultures, the more the better and this wine is no different. The non-vintage blend allows us to really have a wonderful mix of young and old fruit, which creates this very interesting variation of a wine that smells different than it tastes. It’s incredibly thoughtful, so we would recommend opening it up earlier than you plan on drinking it to allow it to breathe. Chocked full of dark fruit and earthy flavors: cooked strawberries, cherry, jam, tar, pencil shavings, with a bit of petrichor the smell after the rain.
This is a wine that will need to open up a bit, decanting may even be a good idea for this. At the very least try and open the bottle about 10-15 minutes before drinking.
Food Pairings: Beef Bourguignon, Mushroom Burgers,
This is very comparable to Double Dog and at a lower price point. – Like Greg’s Perineese that he is training to bring sheep in the vineyard.
More about Tannat: Tannat is the last grape we harvest every summer and is historically grown in South West France in the Madiran AOC, which is very close to Bordeaux. There are two very different types of Tannat grapes: Clones 1-4 are the old school blenders very bitter, very tannic, very colorful. We have a few blocks of these currently. Clones 5-8 is the new world style that is more likely to deliver a full varietal. We just planted 5 blocks of this and in 5 years we will have something very special to look forward to.
Wine Club BBQ is in August – 3 day event!!
One year ago, on earth Day 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 shut down, I stood in the vineyard under clear skies, a complete lack of smog with the snow-covered mountains in the background so clear as to almost seem like I was looking at them through binoculars. I mentioned that events like this allow us to give pause and think about the potential quality of life for ourselves and all beings if we learn to make better decisions through a better perspective.
The cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, as a young man, auditioned for the first time in front of Pablo Casals, perhaps the most famous cellist of all time. After he audition Pablo Casals told the young Yo-Yo Ma his playing was good and then offered some advice. He said that he sees himself first and foremost as a human, secondly as a musician, and finally as a cellist. He then he added but don’t forget to make time for baseball.
Earth Day is not necessarily about the earth but rather, what does it mean to be human? The word “human” comes from the Latin “humus” referring to the earth or soil. We still use the term humus to describe the living organic fraction of the soil. The Greeks knew that we are not from this earth we are of this earth. Modern life often leaves us separated from the natural world, separated from our origins.
Change your perspective, change the outcome.
One year ago, I asked why are we so willing to settle for this lower quality of life? What we do to the earth, we do to ourselves, our children and all our fellow creatures large and small. If we have the perspective that we either can have a high quality of life or a robust economy that is the choice we will have. If we have the perspective that we can have a robust economy because of our demand for a high quality of life that is the choice we will have.
As we return to the “new normal” I hope we return a little more human, a little more empathetic, a little more true to who we are, where we came from and where we are going.
I look forward to a future of regenerating ecosystems, economies, and communities where we can enjoy a baseball game under crystal clear blue skies with a glass of regenerative wine.
All the best for Earth Day 2021,
– Greg and the Vineyard Team
Dear Somm, how is a Rosé wine made? I see so many and their colors are so different. Why? – C. Watkins, Royal Oak, Michigan
This past summer, and now this fall, are times to experience the beauty of a good Rosé wine!
Firstly, a Rosé can be made from most any red grape. I have tasted Rosés from Nebbiolo, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Merlot, etc. This last summer we released a Cabernet Rosé that was tasty. It’s all about the skin contact. The color in a red or Rosé wine come from the anthocyanin pigment in the red grape skins. The more skin contact with the juice results in more pigment. One method of Rosé winemaking is maceration which is the time of skin contact with the juice. The longer the maceration, the more color will be in the skins. With a red wine, during fermentation the maceration can be from 5-15 days. With Rosé wines the maceration can occur prior to fermentation called a cold soak. The skins stay in contact for 6-12 hours in a chilled tank so any native yeast does not kick-start fermentation. The pink juice is then pumped away from the skins and then fermented in another tank. A Rosé wine is typically fermented cooler (at 42-48 degrees) vs. red wines ferment hotter at 80-100 degrees. A cooler fermentation retains the delicate flavors in a white or Rosé wine. This method is popular in Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. The other method is called Saigneé (Sawn-yay) which is based on the French word for “bleeding”. The winemaker will bleed off about 10% of the juice from the red skins during fermentation. The remaining 90% creates a more intense red wine. The 10% of the bled wine is fermented separately into a Rosé wine. Typically, this method will produce a Rosé wine that is darker pink than the maceration method. We do both methods at Wilson Creek. Maceration will yield a lighter wine with more perfumed aromatics and delicate flavors. Saigneé will produce wines that are richer and darker in color.
Mick Wilson is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators.
Drink Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each of us knows a friend, sister, aunt, mother, daughter, or grandmother that has been affected by breast cancer. Wilson Creek Winery is joining the fight by donating a portion of the proceeds of each bottle of Rosé of Cabernet or Custom Labeled Rosé Sparkling Wine to an organization close to our hearts, Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center.
Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center was created as a dying wish of Michelle Watson. Michelle was a 26-year-old victim of breast cancer. As a Temecula resident, Michelle was frustrated with the lack of local resources available to her while facing the challenges of cancer treatment. Sadly, Michelle succumbed to her disease on July 23, 2000. In the wake of Michelle’s passing came a mission of service to make it easier for others touched by this unrelenting disease. Family, friends, and the community have come together and created a mission to serve the local community.