We purchased Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier grapes from Bonofiglio Vineyards in 2012. After pressing, the Marsanne juice was cool-fermented in an oak oval; the Roussanne and Viognier began their fermentations in stainless steel and then were racked to seasoned oak barrels and puncheons for aging on light lees. After eight months in barrel, the wines appeared ready to bottle; blending tastings began in May 2013. First we held a staff tasting of 2011 Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier blends, primarily from the south of France, to educate our palates. Blending Day 1: The panel tasted fully identified individual lots. Roussanne seemed the most flavorful and complete, the Marsanne seemed fuller, aromatic, but needed some weight in the mid-palate. The Viognier was spicy and aromatic but with discernible heat in the finish.
Glenn McGourty is the UC Davis Wine-grape Advisor for Mendocino County. He planted Bonofiglio Vineyard to well-regarded clones of the principal white grape varieties grown in France, near the Rhône River, both to supplement his retirement and, more importantly, as a legacy to Mendocino, confirming that these varietals can thrive in our county.
Wild Camargue horses, an ancient breed, which we were lucky enough to spot last spring while visiting that magical part of France where the Rhône River runs into the sea.
Day 2: Five different combinations of Marsanne, added to Roussanne, were tasted blind; six out of seven tasters chose a blend with 65% Roussanne and 35% Marsanne. Day 3: Using the previous day's winning blend as the new base wine, four wines were tasted with varying additions of Viognier; five out of eight of us liked no addition and two liked the lowest addition, so we corralled our choice to just Roussanne and Marsanne for this bottling. Texture and viscosity take center stage; crisp with a touch of wet stone and pine needles, making this an invigorating alternative to Chardonnay. Pairs well with grilled halibut, chicken with artichoke hearts or sushi. Gold Medal winner.