Made with fruit from the Sierra Hills, this Rhone inspired white blend from Elyse fits well within the new breed of surprising, atypical wines from California. Much easier to peg as a French wine, Elyse expertly blends the 45% Roussanne, 24% Marsanne, 23% Viognier and 8% Grenache Blanc into a wonderful, fairly priced wine of character.
What’s particularly interesting about this wine is its source in the Naggiar Vineyard. The Sierra Hills is becoming one of the most exciting sources for atypical grapes in California. With an iniitial career at Hewlett Packard, Mike Naggiar began on a similar path to other nouveau California winery owners translating their success in Silicon Valley into a foothold in the wine world. But that’s where the similarities stop, since the Naggiars decided to become farmers rather than cult winery owners, and eschewed the more famous regions for the Sierra Hills. The vineyard focuses on French Mediterranean varieties such as Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Counoise, Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc. The elevations here are 1,300 feet above sea level and the gravelly soils are well-drained.
The Naggiars farm with an ecosystem in mind: oak trees and cover crops prevent erosion and foster local wildlife. There is particular focus on canopy management and use a vertical trellising system. This leads to tight clusters and intense fruit from the light exposure.
I would happily buy this wine again and found it a delicious example of a Rhone white blend with great typicity and balance.
~$50 at Kits Wine