Troon Vineyard may have a 40 year old winemaking history, but they seem to be on the cusp of what’s new and innovative in winemaking. Not out to make the fast, easy sell, they embrace what their little piece of Oregon terroir has to offer — climate and terrain similar to the Old World France and Spain, and yet still uniquely Oregonian. That means their focus is on under-appreciated grapes: Vermentino, Tannat, Malbec, simply because this is what grows best. (Learn more about Troon Vineyard’s Applegate Valley)
As Craig Camp says, “If you want to bring real pleasure to peoples lives, your wines have to have personalities as interesting as the people that drink them.” (You can read more of Craig’s thoughts on Troon Vineyard’s Wine Camp Blog.)
Tannat — an often forgotten grape varietal, one that is rarely seen in a single-varietal bottling. It’s thick-skinned, tannic, acidic, and a gothic shade of purple. To look at it, you may think angry thoughts — and to prevent those angry thoughts when drinking, winemakers often blend Tannat with the more voluptuous Cabernet Franc or Merlot — or, in Uruguay, even Pinot Noir. (Learn more about the origins of Tannat.)
But there seems to be a recent turn of events. Maybe it’s because the warm-weathered Uruguay has adopted the lonely variety as their heritage grape. Maybe it’s because “weird” wine is now some kind of fad. Or maybe, maybe, winemakers and drinkers alike have discovered that there’s no need to be afraid of the dark. Remember,
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
A former photographer for the SF Chronicle, Eric Luse, founder and winemaker of Eric Ross Winery, stumbled into his passion on his way to a Wine Country photoshoot in the 1980s. Since that time, he’s dedicated the same kind of care and attention to detail in his winemaking as he does with his photography. “Photo-journalism insisted a respect for the people that allowed me into their lives,” Luse says. Similarly, he prides himself in “respecting the growers, their fruit and making the wine based on the uniqueness,” and making wines that showcase his “respect for the quality fruit and (his) desire for you, the consumer, to ‘Taste The Vineyard.'” The journalist in Luse makes him crave realism and, as such, we’ll only find “real” fruit qualities in his wines — no filters or photoshop; no heavy-handed oak or excessive, forceful fermentation. Respect. Honesty. Realism. Quality.
“My mom always wore rose colored glasses. Life does look good through rose colored glasses. This is to you.”
– Cindy Cosco, Passaggio Wines.
I actually didn’t see that quote on the bottle the day I decided to drink Passaggio Tempranillo Rosé. What I did know was that I was in for a long hard day and when I got home, I was going to want something cool and refreshing, but something out of the ordinary. Something that could simultaneously comfort and stimulate me. So, before I left for work, I put this out-of-the-ordinary rosé into the cellar to chill. And, yes, it was the perfect “welcome home” gift to myself. This is to you, Cindy. Cheers.
Robert Sinskey is my kind of winemaker — a native Californian who has his BA in Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design in New York City. He’s not science-y, or mathematical, or calculating; he doesn’t have a degree or certificate in horticulture, enology or even biology. In fact he’s never received a “traditional” winemaking “degree” of any kind. He’s an artist who brings his artistic abilities to his craft as a vintner.
Sinskey’s goal is to create “pure wines of character that pair well with cuisine,” and believes that good wines are the wines that “sneak up on you, seduce you, and evolve in the glass and in the bottle.” I told you, he’s my kind of winemaker.