"...take a nose dive into fresh pulled tulips yanked from the earth, dappled by a cool spring shower; flint and roots quivering upwards, a breeze off nearby dunes, a soft unspoken memory..."
I purchased this wine a few years ago when I was working at Vine Wine in Brooklyn, sometime during a kid-in-a-candy-shop moment where I became interested in this bottle and I just had to buy one. I think we've all had the experience of being drawn to a certain bottle because of its location, varietal, label, bottle type, grower or maker - this one spoke.
So this wine has been around, sitting in my wine rack, in my fridge, and in my wine fridge finally, and on the hunt for that early spring sipper I went scrounging around for a rose and plucked it out. From what I've been able to gather the wine is from Los Carneros AVA, pressed whole cluster and fermented in stainless steel. In a way I don't feel as compelled to give this region a whole background like I do with other regions, but for consistency and my interest in American wine history, I can provide something short, maybe even a tangent. . .
Grape cultivation began with Jacob P Leese at a time when Mexico still had control of California, but as the land transitioned over to settlers who were moving west from the colonies (and through war), it wasn't really until 1870 when William Winter began the first commercial vineyard in the area. But to be more accurate the Spanish colonizers on this side of the continent spread the mission grape far and wide via their missions, cultivating and producing grapes for sacrament as well as consumption as early as 1778. I also feel the need to mention George Husmann, if only to elucidate the interconnectivity of the wine arena at the time. Husmann was a native Missouri oenologist who, for all intents and purposes, is practically a legend of American wine as his name has come up in more than one book recently and whose story speaks to the ingenuity, cunning and exploration we all associate with this country's mythos. After a lustrous career in Missouri as a scientist, viticulturist, writer, farmer, and known for being the father of Missouri wine - Missouri was part of the "Napa" of the 19th century - he left for California in 1850 where he made significant contributions to the industry before returning to Missouri in his sunset years.
George Husmann, like so many other scientists, horticulturists and winos, as phylloxera was ravaging Europe, California too was dealing with this pest and it was in part due to George Husmann's work in grafting rootstock that helped save the vines. I'm unclear as to whether grafting was a bit of information that was being passed around at the time as it became an effective way to thwart the pest, or whether it was a novel thing to do, or whether George Husmann or Thomas Munson developed it first. The reason for mentioning someone like George Husmann in a California post is that I think it's important for people to recognize that wine making in America in general at that time, is generally still understood as a virtual unknown, something that people think just came into being in the 1960's or 1970's. I also think it's important to note that California, although they had a period of respite from phylloxera until the late-to-mid 19th century, were also in danger of loosing everything and the advancements that saved the European wine industry invariably helped what is now the heartland of the American wine industry.
To boomerang this post back to the wine at hand: the Los Carneros (meaning the rams) region ranges in altitude from around 120m down to sea level and has a climate that makes growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the perfect place due to its low rainfall, early morning fog, high winds and abundant warmth; the soil is primarily a very thin and shallow clay, which means poor drainage and fertility causing the vines to struggle for nutrients and often making the wines all the more interesting. It's interesting to note that Los Carneros was the first to gain AVA status specifically for it's climactic conditions back in 1983, however I haven't been able to find more information on Sinsky's growing practices and treatments of the grapes, the plots, ot soil specifics.
With slight allergy inclinations aside, I was able to grasp at least a bit of this wines character: it's entirely a blue wine. I don't know how to explain it but it's the color I associate with Pinot Noir and specifically this wine sings with everything I want in a rose wine. Maybe because I've had this wine sitting around for a few years developing the traits I'm now experiencing, after all I don't know what a fresh bottle tastes like, but as it was left open over the course of three days a delicate rising fog of cracked white pepper over smoked flint with and effusion of dark greens -like those close to the earth: broken stalks, think artichoke and asparagus, something tough and fibrous and all set on a velvety mineral-acid backdrop that is supple and pristine. Simply put this wine is exquisite and I wish I had another bottle...
I've heard it said a few times that rose wines can't age and I'd say to that, well not most, but certainly some if kept well.
PoP: Vine Wine, Brooklyn, NY - $27.99
Producer: Robert Sinskey Vineyards - http://www.robertsinskey.com/wines/vin-gris-of-pinot-noir/2010