It’s always interesting when you discover a winery in your own backyard. It wasn’t until I was doing research about San Francisco South Bay Rhone producers for a recent article that I came across Jeff Fadness of La Vie Dansante. What’s even more remarkable is that in tasting through his wines (and I must admit tasting through neighboring winery and exclusively white Rhone producer Lion Ranch as well), he put my fear and stereotype of Rhone white blends to rest.

Yes, I know there are some iconic California Rhone producers who craft, what many call, beautiful and balanced white blends. In fact, Fadness credits the expression of his white blend to the Esprit de Tablas Creek by Tablas Creek. Even so, I have to credit Fadness himself for creating a blend of white varietals in which the sum of those varietals expresses even better than the separate components. 

About the Wine: The La Vie Dansante Wines 2016 Rhône White Blend is made of 55% Grenache Blanc, 35% Roussanne, 10% Picpoul harvested from vineyards located in the Gilroy/San Martin regions of California’s Santa Clara AVA.

14.3% ABV

Flavor Profile: La Vie Dansante Wines 2016 Rhône White Blend releases aromas the second you pull that cork from the bottle: breathe in green apples and apple blossoms. On the pour this white blend is a soft straw yellow — as it continues to exude those delicate aromas — settling into the glass a shade more peachy than yellow.

Once in the glass, initial aromas are absolutely of soft, poached yellow apples, apple blossoms, and a delicate acidity that rides through the center of it all. So swirl and breathe again. Find a bit of citrus zest, pith, and oil; find something savory, like cashew paste.

On the palate, this Rhône white blend is round in texture, giving it an allusion of fullness, but is actually quite light in body. There is a steady, sturdy acidity that cleanly penetrates through the center. The notes on the nose hold true: soft apples, apple blossoms, a hint of nuttiness, citrus zest — they’re all present on the palate here as well. Add to it a bit of honey essence and perhaps persimmon. Hold the wine in the mouth and you can find a kind of woody or tree-barky light texture that just clings to the tongue. The finish is just “wow” with an almost spice-like tingle around the palate — without exuding any actual spice flavors. Finishing flavors are, in fact, calming with nuts, oak, and that slight textural cling to the tongue.

One thing I will note is that I did not chill this wine. I kept it at an even cellar temp (about 60F) throughout the evening.

Food Pairing: I paired the La Vie Dansante Wines 2016 Rhône White Blend with grilled swordfish steak on top of coconut rice, garnished with mango salsa and a curry vinaigrette. This was, indeed, a perfect pairing. I loved how the sweet and sour aspects of the dish actually brought out the savory components in the wine. Meanwhile, the softness of the rice, as well as the meatiness of the fish, highlighted the initial smooth and round mouthfeel to the blend.

More Info: I received the La Vie Dansante Wines 2016 Rhône White Blend as a pre-release sample (hence the moonshine bottle — Cheers Jeff!) Retail: $24. For more information about La Vie Dansante, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the La Vie Dansante website.

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