After tasting the Las Jaras 100% Carignan, I thought it only fitting to try the boys’ expression of the same variety in rosé form. Good news, Burt and Wareheim didn’t simply use “leftover” Carignan—more eloquently referred to as saignée—to craft their rosé. No, the two believe in purposeful winemaking. So, as I posted their general thoughts about the Carignan grape, I’d like to also quote their thoughts on rosé…
General thoughts on rosé… rosé should be fresh and vibrant, delicious and gulpable. You can’t just simply pick grapes earlier for rosé, because the wine will be out of balance. The grapes need to achieve appropriate ripeness for a great rosé. We handpick the grapes early in the morning and get them to the winery as early as possible. We want to minimize skin contact and phenolic extraction. Usually, we want to avoid malo-lactic fermentation, but this year the malo-lactic fermentation finished during primary fermentation.
One of the first grapes that Joel and Eric had to work with was Carignan. It’s a bit of an “oddball” variety, especially for a new label’s first wine. But that’s what they had to work with and, in fact, the first, 2016 vintage of Sweet Berry Wine was 100% Carignan.
I love what Joel has to say about the variety:
General thoughts on Carignan…Carignan is such an intriguing variety for us at Las Jaras. It is juicy, brambly and spicy when it is at its best. At its worst it is tannic, sour, and tastes like cabbage. It can also be quite difficult to grow. They are generally old vines that stand 7-8 feet tall and can be vigorous. The vine is extremely prone to powdery mildew infection, so it needs meticulous canopy management to avoid disaster. Site location is important for this variety to perform at its best. It needs to be on bench land, with properly draining sandy loam soils and a hot climate. This is because the acids can be absolutely searing on this variety, so you need to have it in a place where it can burn off some acid without over-ripening the fruit to get it into balance.
Holly and Tom Cooper fell in love with the Rhône Valley and Rhône wines over their first bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape as a married couple during their honeymoon in France. Many years later, Holly had the romantic notion to live on a hill in the country, and the couple moved to the Sierra Foothills, taking up residency on Tom’s family’s cattle ranch. Here, in the Pleasant Valley region of the El Dorado AVA, where the Mediterranean climate mimics that of their beloved Rhône Valley, Tom was able to fulfill his romantic notion of owning a vineyard. In 1998 the couple planted their first 15 acres of Syrah, celebrating their first harvest in 2000. Since that time, the family-owned vineyard and winery has expanded to include Counoise, Grenache Blanc, Petite Sirah, Cinsaut, Picpoul, Mourvedre, Roussanne,Viognier, and Carignane. The 2015 Carignane is the winery’s first single-varietal bottling of this somewhat “obscure” varietal.