When it comes to white wines, Cellars 33 is all about Grenache Blanc sourced from California’s Lodi AVA. When asked about this Rhône-style white blend, which includes a significant amount of Viognier and a trace amount of PicPoul, John Fones (owner and winemaker of Cellars 33) said that it’s simply a chance to create a “different expression” of the varietal he’s come to love. Oh, and if you’re wondering about the name, just remember “The Betty” is a white wine.
So cheers to everyone’s favorite Golden Girl…
About the Wine: Cellars 33 2016 ‘The Betty’ is made from 50% Grenache Blanc, 49% Viognier, and 1% Picpoul, harvested from Terra Alta and Clay Station vineyards in California’s Lodi AVA. Grapes and vineyard lots are always kept separate prior to blending, with the individual wines aging in seasoned French oak barrels for 4 months.
When it comes to the blending process, Fones says it’s an experiment conducted by him and his wife, Katie, every year, and every year the results are different. “I pull samples from all of the white barrels, sample them blind, and create the initial blends completely blind,” explains Fones, “Then my wife re-labels the blends and we re-test. So it’s a real double-blind test — a true blank slate.”
The final blend is created as close to bottling as possible, letting the wine “settle” in bottle for just a few months prior to release.
Flavor Profile: Twist off Betty’s top and breathe in subtle aromas of crisp apples, pears, and freshly watered grass. On the pour, Cellars 33 2016 ‘The Betty’ is a luminescent yellow-green, settling into the glass like lawn grass bleached by the summer sun. Initial aromas are certainly of those pomme fruits, but also a bit of cold, uncooked pastry. There’s a softness, a roundness on the nose, a deep breath in and this Rhône-style white blend is vaguely reminiscent of a Chardonnay. Swirl, and light scents of daffodils, sunflower stalks, more grass, and pollen come into the mix.
On the palate, the wine is crisp yet smooth with a medium line of acidity that simply melts away. There is a bit of texture, but just enough to give this light-bodied white wine some presence on the tongue — though the overall feeling is certainly a round one. Primary flavors are of dried grass, flowers, ginger, lemongrass, and then a bit of toasty-ness reminiscent of coffee grounds and, perhaps, a bit of cream.
The finish is simultaneously clean, yet appetizing. The wine leaves no certain taste or texture on the tongue, but the after breath hangs on slightly to that surprising smokiness.
Food Pairing: I enjoyed the Cellars 33 2016 ‘The Betty Rhône-style white blend as an aperitif on a summer afternoon. And, yes, that pairing was perfect. If I was going to pair this wine with food (and, indeed, it certainly is a foodie’s white wine), I’d recommend something to bring out that hidden toast and milk found in the back of the palate. I’m thinking a grilled chicken breast with an alfredo-sauced pasta, tossed with some fresh spinach leaves. The freshness of the wine, the fruits, the zest, will perfectly cut through the richness of the sauce and pasta. Meanwhile, the cream-based sauce will call out that last minute “milk-like” note on the palate, while the grilled chicken will play with that secretive smokiness. Toss a few fresh spinach leaves in there so you don’t forget — this is a savory wine through and through.
More Info: Learn more about the Cellars 33 story.
I received the Cellars 33 2016 ‘The Betty’ Rhône-style white blend as a sample for review. (Cheers, John and Katie!) Retail: $33. For more information and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Cellars 33 website.
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