Love this quote from winemaker Cynthia Cosco posted on her website:

“I believe something magical happens 
when you bring wonderful friends, awesome food,
and great wines together.”

I believe that too, Cindy. Something washes over me, a form of relief and relaxation. Something that makes my default expression a smile and my immediate response a laugh. And to all those nay-sayers and negative energies…

About the Wine: Let’s talk about Roussanne for a second. Roussanne is a white wine grape variety that originates from France’s Rhône wine region. Roussanne grapes are actually a rusty red color — the French word roux is the root word to the grape’s name, literally translating to “russet” (referring to that rusty color).

Roussanne is a well-known difficult grape to grow. The vines ripen late, prefer a long growing season, yet are quite susceptible to sunlight, which can make the grapes mature much to early — and in some cases shatter. And because the vines yield fruit somewhat erratically and unevenly, vineyard farmers must pay close attention as harvest time approaches, systematically harvesting the Roussanne in several stages to ensure the grapes are picked at the optimal time (with proper sugar and acid balance).

Passaggio Wines 2015 Roussanne is made from 100% Roussanne grapes. Not completely uncommon, but definitely a rarity. Since the Roussanne grape is so fickle and low-yielding, it’s often blended with the more farmer-friendly Marsanne and/or Viognier (in fact Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier is a very common Rhône white wine blend).

The grapes were harvested from Hux Vineyard in — a small, family-owned vineyard in Lodi. It’s a modest 3.5-acre plot, established by Dave and Barbara Huecksteadt in the mid-90s. Although Dave has passed on, Barbara continues to manage the the land, producing several Mediterranean grapes including Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Mourvèdre, Tempranillo, and Zinfandel (as well as some “less common” varieties known to the Mediterranean the region, such as Souzão, Teroldego, and Marzemino).

Now, I’d like to tell you that Lodi is one of those rarities, where the terroir mimics perfectly that of the Rhône region. Sure it’s prone to some pleasantly warm weather and, being in a valley, it benefits from changing seasons giving grapes a “well-rounded” exposure to both hot and cold climate. But the truth is that Lodi grows the largest list of grape varieties in the US. Check out the 100 grapes of Lodi on Pinterest.

My point is, in order for these funny, rustically-red grapes to truly thrive in this environment, they need the attention and care of a true vigneron.

And for the wine to express the beautiful balance of flavors achieved in the growing season, one needs a winemaker who respects what nature has given her.

Flavor Profile: From the bottle Passaggio Wines 2015 Roussanne has a scent of beeswax and orange peel — waxy, tacky, yet flavorsome. The pour of the Roussanne is reminiscent of honey — it’s not thick, but gives the impression of pure gold as it cascades from bottle to glass. And once settled, it’s shines like a metal coin.

Take a deep whiff in and smell a whole bouquet of soft apples, white flowers, honey dew melon and the softest hint of butter. Swirl and sniff again and get those earthy aromatics: wet stone, pebbly rocks, and the slightest hint of something savory…

To the taste: the texture is round, and full. Initial flavors of yellow apples, a bit of honey or brown sugar (please note: this wine is not sweet — it is the essence of honey or brown sugar without any actual sugar). Sip again and let the wine linger and there’s a background essence for grapefruit zest. There are bits and pieces of sparkle; you’re left with a matchstick flint on the finish. And all the while, there’s something almost savory, almost funky, almost…meaty?

Buttermilk. Swirl the Roussanne. Sip the Roussanne. Let the Roussanne linger on the palate for a little too long. That something savory, that something funky, that something almost meaty combined with the floral bouquet and voluptuous body — there’s an undeniable essence of buttermilk.

But, for all of this wine’s “complexity,” as hard as it was for me to figure out those secret little nuances, I think this line from my notes best sums up Passaggio Wines 2015 Roussanne: “It is what it is. No expectations.”

It’s just so grounded in taste and texture. So grounded in its expression of fruit. There’s nothing hoity-toity about it — it’s rustic, it’s funky, it’s the product of dirt and sunshine, sweat and smiles.

Food Pairing: I paired Passaggio Wines 2015 Roussanne with a…

Who cares? Have this wine on a night you need a glass of good white wine. Have this wine over a meal with someone you can just yammer on with. Have this wine with a meal that doesn’t take too much time to prep or worry over what goes with what. Have this wine, enjoy this wine, be with this wine.

(PS In case you’re actually curious: I paired this with a chicken salad.)

More Info: If you haven’t read my review of the Passaggio Wines Grenache, please do — another beautiful expression from the talented Miss Cindy. I received Passaggio Wines 2015 Roussanne as a sample for review. (Cheers, Cindy!) Retail: $32 For more information about Passaggio Wines and to purchase wines directly, visit the Passaggio Wines website.


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