Love of biking leads to winemaking
Tour de France led to paths beyond Mont Ventoux
The year was 2002. Brian Lewis and his wife, Renée Arst, both biking enthusiasts, were in the town of Roubaix for the Tour de France when they met Carlos and Meredith Wolf of Florida. An instant connection was made. A few years later, they bought a property on an acre lot in Rutherford in the Napa Valley. In 2010 they planted a third of an acre to Cabernet Sauvignon.
Never forgetting the serendipitous meeting in the biking town of Roubaix, the new partners named their winery for the place of their meeting.
Roubaix Vineyards winemaker Keith Hock helped in planning the placement of the 310 vines, which were planted in narrow rows. “The clone we selected was for small berry size and flavor concentration,” Hock said.
Rutherford, like vineyards in many California AVAs, offers a long growing season for grapes. Long days followed by cool nights are ideal for ripening. In drought years, stressed vines produce smaller berries with a greater concentration of aromas and flavors. Then there is the Rutherford Dust, the soil that sets these wines apart.
The first vintage, seventy five cases in all, was released in 2014. A Cab was born.
The Cabs of Rutherford, Hock said, are “terroir driven.”
As you, my readers, know, I’m learning as I write these posts. Terroir is a challenging concept. Like all terms French, it sounds great. On its face, the word would seem to mean simply the soil. But the latter is a mere component. Terroir encompasses environmental factors, such as sunshine, elevation, and rainfall. And, oh, the word has no equivalent in English.
The idea of terroir expressing itself through wine sounds romantic – the environment in your glass. In the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma, where the lines of demarcation are more political than geographic, terroir brings out different flavor profiles. But it takes many, many glasses to discern these communications from your wine. If, like me, you can’t tell, take heart. Pop open a bottle from a couple of different AVAs and taste. And taste…
Last winter, we enjoyed the 2015 vintage of the Roubaix. Fruit forward with red berry flavors, it was wonderfully delectable with a bright acidity. Despite being young for a Cab, the tannins were not grippy. We had it with an assortment of cheese, crackers, and conversation.
Some other wines we’ve sipped.
A 2010 Aglianico from Seghesio Family Vineyards. Grown locally in the Alexander Valley AVA in Sonoma County, this ancient grape originated in the Campania region in southern Italy. Aglianico is age worthy and Seghesio keeps it in the barrel for 30 months, but it can be drunk young, as well. It is a medium-bodied, high-acid, garnet-colored wine; age had begun to create a tawny rim in the glass. Age, too, had mellowed the tannins and acid. We savored it with Gouda and Manchego cheese, Italian salami, and a Caesar salad.
Finally, the 2018 Siegerrebe from Chaberton Estate Wineryin Langley City, British Columbia, Canada. Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible describes this white grape as a minor curiosity of the Puget Sound region. We enjoyed it for its novelty. Floral aroma, off dry, high acid, low alcohol. We paired it with Hakka noodles and vegetables cooked in toasted sesame oil.
Featured picture, courtesy Shutterstock: Mont Ventoux forms a backdrop against fields of lavender.