Russian wine: I’ve never quite thought about it. But Big Cork Vineyards is into big ideas — and not just with their bodacious reds. As I’ve mentioned before, Maryland’s climate is actually quite a cold one, especially when compared to the vineyards in my native California. This opens up their little wine country up to a whole host of grapes that are virtually untapped here on the west side. So, how about a taste of SK77-53, SK77-10-69, and XIV 186 my friends?
According to Henry Matthes, owner and proprietor of Matthes Vineyards, this Rhône-style blend is a bit of an anomaly. His intention is to always focus on Grenache Blanc, using just enough Marsanne to give the wine some backbone and structure. But due to a difficult growing season in 2014 in which much of the Marsanne failed, Henry and his vineyard team ended up grafting Grenache Blanc onto much of the Marsanne rootstock. Somehow, as Henry says, “The remaining Marsanne grew with unexpected vigor, yielding a huge crop of perfect fruit.” And so it is that he was able to create, for his portfolio, this unique white blend. “A serendipitous event for sure,” he adds.
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.