Not all high-quality white wines from Napa, California, are Chardonnay.
Never one to do the same thing everyone else is doing, pioneering filmmaker and winery owner Francis Ford Coppola chose to do something unusual with a patch of land on his Rubicon Estate — grow Rhone white varietals Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier.
The vines are grown against a shady hill on Mt. St. John in western Rutherford, Napa Valley, allowing for a relatively cool, long growing season that slowly but fully ripens the grapes. According to the French, it takes at least 8-10 years for Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier vines to begin producing high quality fruit (in fact the AOC requires a minimum of ten-year-old vines). Considering that Coppola’s team began planting these varietals in 1995, we’re just now beginning to experience the best Blancaneaux.
The “old” vines combined with an ideal growing season to produce a lush, delicious, and complex white wine. The exact recipe for you wine geeks is this: 51% Marsanne, 32% Roussanne, and 17% Viognier (no, I’m not sure why winemaker Scott McLeod chose to do 51 percent Marsanne as opposed to 50 or 52 … these things are best left to the professionals!). And unlike most other whites from Napa, this wine was not bathed in oak — in fact, it saw no oak whatsoever, as it was fermented and aged in stainless steel.
Tasting Notes: Blancaneaux 2006
A distinctly floral aroma fills the nose, along with ample white fruits and exotic spices. In the mouth you get bright, tropical fruit flavors of pear, white peach, melon, and citrus (lime?). There are also hints of ginger and allspice and a firm mineral note. Lots of charm and complexity. Texture is soft and velvety, and though the acidity is fairly low, this is by no means flabby and makes for a beautiful match with simply prepared scallops, pork, and sauteed vegetables.
a-9 t-9 b-8 fc-8 v-7 ~ 91 Points
Winery: Rubicon Estate