At a recent Grape of the Night event, that a dozen or more friends attend under the tutelage of Eve’s Wine 101 staff writer Rusty Sly, the assigned varietal was one none of us was overly familiar with: Roussanne.
Grape of the Night, for those of you new to Eve’s Wine 101, is an event Rusty created with friends in Florida. Their wine shop, now sadly closed, organized an event where wine friends – both novice and expert – met every month over a different wine varietal. The idea being that dedicating the palate to one varietal guests would detect nuances more readily, learn and decide what they liked the most. In our west coast version, held at Valencia Wine Company usually on the first or second Monday each month, guests are asked to bring or buy a bottle to share. (One bottle per person or couple, and if you bring a bottle, our deal with the bar is to purchase one of theirs.) Lots of chatter, as each person is tasked with talking about the wine they brought. Our biggest challenge is usually finding the varietal, as Rusty often adds the caveat that it must be 85% or greater of the one we are studying. At the end of the evening, Rusty takes a general consensus as to what we will try the next month.
Now, back to Roussanne. Rusty said, “Some of the descriptors you will find will run from fruit to floral, look for things like herbal tea, apricot and honey. If the wine is aged in oak it will be decidedly more rich, and those aged in stainless will allow more floral and mineral notes to come forward.”
Tracy Sly, Rusty’s trusty note-taker-wife, receives all of the bottles poured at her table after we pour everyone a splash. Lucky for me, as I brought the Edward Sellers Roussanne, I was only tasked with the results for one. (You can go to http://evewine101.com and search “Grape of the Night” to see whichever varietal you want to see our results on.)
Edward Sellers Vineyard and Wines (2016 note: sadly Edward Sellers Vineyard is now closed)
I’d met Ed Sellers many years ago when he and his wife, Dani, traveled to Santa Clarita from Paso Robles, for a wine pairing dinner organized by Guy Lelarge, owner of Valencia Wine Company, and held at Maru Sushi. (Article: http://oldsite.the-signal.com/?module=displaystory&story_id=49817&format=print) Suffice it to say, it was an awesome pairing.
Many other times since then I’d seen Ed Sellers, at Family Winemakers in Pasadena, and, most recently, with his full line-up at Rhone Rangers LA. Anyway, it was a good opportunity to taste all of Ed’s wines again, all receiving high marks from me, and decide that bringing his 100% Roussanne to Grape of the Night would be a stellar idea.
Tasting Edward Sellers 2008 Roussanne: Grape of the Night Group Consensus
Color – Clear, golden-hued, diamonds on surface, deeper honeyed edge.
Aroma – Lemon, pear, pineapple, all carried through to the taste.
Taste – Lemon-peel, pear, some nice minerality, acidity and a lovely viscosity over the mouth.
Finish – Medium length.
Conclusion – Of course I loved it. I think it may have been the only 100% Roussanne of the night. And though it was a great surprise to find that so many Roussanne ended up varying in taste, this one was a standout. Vic Herstein, newly ensconced at Valencia Wine Company, was a fan as well so I’m hoping that Guy will stock some soon!
At Harvest, this was a ripe Roussanne, with its characteristic russet skin and flawlessly balanced acid and sugar. The wine these grapes produced is complex and structured, with Grape- fruit, pear, and white plum aromas. In the mouth, candied fruit is perfectly weighted by subtle custard notes and echoes of vanilla, cashew, and meringue. Hints of brine and granite lead to a lingering finish that integrates all of the elements that mark this distinctive wine.
Blend: 100% Roussanne
Appellation: Paso Robles
T.A.: 4.8 g/L
Cooperage: 100% Barrel fermented
Bottle Date: April 2009
Release Date: March 2011
Production: 98 Cases
Edward Sellers Vineyard and Wines 1401 West Highway 46 Paso Robles, CA 93446 805-239-8915