This month we are featuring two California rosés. As you may or may not be aware, imported wines are suffering from severe shipping issues due to a myriad of reasons; tariffs that were implemented (then lifted) in 2019, loss of workforce in the ports due to COVID, and back-ups related to the ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal in March, etc. etc. If you are from the Bay Area and have driven across the Bay Bridge lately, you probably noticed the large number of cargo ships “parked” in the bay, patiently awaiting their turn to offload their cargo. Sadly, most of the imported rosés from the 2020 vintage are still in transit, stuck on ships, or have not even left the country yet! I even spoke to one Italian distributor who said they will not be offering ANY roses for the 2020 vintage.
Luckily for us, we make amazing rosés here in California, so we opted to feature a well-known producer and a newcomer. Tablas Creek may be recognizable to some of our long-term rosé club members; we featured their top tier Dianthus Rosé in our club back in 2018. This year I tasted the Patelin Rosé side by side with the Dianthus and preferred the Patelin. Founder Robert Haas started working in the wine industry in the 1950’s at his family’s New York wine shop, M. Lehman, in the 1950’s. After establishing himself and developing new contacts with producers in France, Haas set out to create a new company (Vineyard Brands), one that would transform the wine industry in the United States and in many ways, the global wine industry. This is when Robert met the esteemed Perrin family of the revered Chateau de Beaucastel from the Rhone region of France. Several years later, the Perrins and Haas set out to create a joint venture in the new world where Rhône varietals excelled and mimicked the terroir of the Southern Rhône valley. Known for its Mediterranean climate and extremely good weather suitable for grape growing, California was an easy choice. With an abundance of hilly land, strong heat in the summer, a surplus of sunny days, and weather patterns influenced by maritime movements, the team to choose Paso Robles as their new home. What the team decided to do next was revolutionary for winemaking in the new world. The Perrin family took cuttings of Mourvedre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Counoise, Roussane, Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, and Picpoul Blanc from their Beaucastel vineyard sites and imported them into the United States. Following the USDA-mandated three-year quarantine, the vines were planted in 1994. What followed was a renaissance for Rhône varietals in the United States and a new thriving Paso Robles wine industry.
California Icons is a passion project of location-based wines that focuses on local icons as the centerpiece of the labels. In 2021 they released two different wines, one of which is their immensely popular and refreshing rosé from the Central Coast. It is no surprise that the Bay Area is saturated with California wines and that standing out is becoming more and more difficult. But winemaker Ian McCaffrey, a 26-year-old Napa Valley native, is onto something. “I truly think that there is something special about having a recognizable landmark on the bottle because it creates an emotional connection between the wine and the consumer,” he says. His Coit Tower and Station 26 labels both represent true California icons in their respective cities (Coit Tower in San Francisco and Station 26 in Santa Monica) and “have great significance to me personally,” he says. “My girlfriend and I had our first date in Santa Monica at Station 26, and my best friend from Saint Helena has since moved to SF and now we hang out right next to Coit Tower whenever I am in the city. My goal has always been to create wines that are expressive and approachable and true to variety and place,”
Carrie Upson/General Manager
California Icons Coit Tower Rosé
Region / Country of Origin: Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo, California
Winemaker: Ian McCaffrey
Price per bottle/Price per case: $18 / $194.40
About the Winemaker: Since earning his winemaking degree at UC Davis, Ian has worked around Napa Valley at wineries such as Joel Gott, Orin Swift, Schramsberg, Robert Mondavi, Louis Martini and Joseph Phelps. Through continued learning, he has picked up different intricacies of the industry, and this wine is a showcasing of his abilities.
About the winemaking: Ian works with a small number of growers in the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo appellations that provide the fruit. With their help, he is able to showcase the bright flavors, exciting freshness, and rounded mouthfeel that you will find in this wine.
After being picked cold in the early morning hours, whole clusters go directly into the press, and the juice is slowly fermented at low temps to maintain peak freshness of the aromatics, effervescence, and crispness of the wine. It is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Grenache Blanc.
Tasting notes: Aromas of white flowers and a strawberry nose lead to a fruit forward yet balanced entry and mouthfeel. The round and juicy palate is supported by structured acidity and a lingering texture that leaves your mouth watering for the next sip.
Suggested Food Pairing: Sushi, Grilled Swordfish, Fried Chicken
Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rosé
Region / Country of Origin:
Paso Robles, California
Winemaker: Neil Collins
Price per bottle/Price per case: $22/ $237.60
About the Winery: Tablas Creek’s limestone-rich organic estate vineyard is in the heart of the Adelaida District in the hills north and west of Paso Robles, about 11 miles from the ocean. They have been certified organic since 2003, and werecertified biodynamic in 2017. In 2020, they became the first Regenerative Organic Certified™ vineyard in the U.S.
About the wine making: Tablas Creek’s focus of their winemaking is to preserve the wine’s expression of its grape varieties, its vintage, and its terrior. Vineyard blocks are picked by hand to ensure that grapes arrive at the cellar at their ideal ripeness. They only use native yeasts in fermentation, as they believe it gives a diversity of flavors and a character more specific to the site. This year’s blend is 75% Grenache, 19% Mourvedre, and 6% Counoise.
Tasting notes: The 2020 Patelin de Tablas Rosé is a vibrant light peach color. On the nose are spicy aromatics of nectarine, mandarin pith, sea spray, and crushed rock. The mouth is bright with flavors of yellow raspberry and blood orange, with mouthwatering acidity giving focus to a long finish with flavors of pink grapefruit, briny mineral, and a citrus blossom florality. Drink now and over the next year.
Suggested Food Pairing: Salmon, Anchovies, Sausages, Fried Chicken, Mediterranean Tapas