Larry Schaffer, owner and winemaker of Tercero Wines, has a personal appreciation — really a respect — for single-varietal wines. His niche is using what his vineyards provide him to create a wine that truly highlights the fruit in its entirety — from soil and seed to bud and berry. And it is with this respectful craftsmanship that Larry has created Verbiage Blanc, a white Rhône blend that celebrates each individual grape’s character as part of a seamless, narrative whole.
About the Wine: Tercero Wines 2014 Verbiage Blanc is a white Rhône blend made from 64% Roussanne, 24% Viognier, and 12% Grenache Blanc sourced from 3 different sites in California’s Santa Barbara County: Viognier from White Hawk Vineyard, Roussanne from Zaca Mesa and Camp 4 vineyards, and Grenache Blanc from El Camino Real and Camp 4 vineyards.
Each vineyard lot was pressed, fermented, and aged separately, then blended together right before bottling. As Larry says, this gives him more “pieces to play with” to come up with the perfect blend. “For instance,” he says, “there was one or two roussanne barrels that, to me, smelled like buttered caramel popcorn. I did not want my bottled Roussanne to have that as a dominant component, but in this larger blend, it worked.” Indeed it did. (See tasting notes below.)
Flavor Profile: Out of the bottle, the Tercero Wines 2014 Verbiage Blanc emits an immediate aroma of creaminess, reminiscent of a flaky pastry dough. Visually, the wine is yellow — the very definition of yellow full stop. In the glass, that creamy aroma intensifies, bringing to mind egg custard or a freshly baked soufflé. There are sparse hints of white peach and even raw nuts. Swirl, and the wine releases a background scent of green grass and delicate acidity. Move your nose to the top of the glass to find the most subtle floral bouquet of lawn daisies.
On the palate, the Rhône blend is quite smooth, yet not quite round — more like the smoothness of a steady stream of cool river water — and there’s just the mellowest line of acidity running throughout the taste. The over-arching aroma to the palate is reminiscent of a freshly baked cookie: that soft texture of melted butter, sugar, flour, with hints of caramel, or maybe candied ginger, in the background — something that makes me think of graham cracker cookies. But, note, the wine is not sweet. That mellow acidity slowly increases, but delicately, subtly, until the finish when the tongue is left salivating. Lingering flavors are reminiscent of honey and apple cider.
Food Pairing: I paired the Tercero Wines 2014 Verbiage Blanc with a pan-fried tilapia and roasted vegetables (heirloom potatoes, brussel sprouts, bell pepper, sweet onion — sprinkled with feta cheese). The smooth texture of the wine did well to cut through the cruciferous nature of the brussels and the tartness of the feta. Meanwhile the fish, which was seasoned with ginger and lemon-pepper, brought out more of the fresher flavors and acidity in the wine. Perfect pairing? Well, I sure enjoyed it.
More Info: I received the Tercero Wines 2014 Verbiage Blanc as a sample for review. (Cheers Larry!) Retail: $30 — 10% off with discount code “Briscoe.” For more information about Tercero Wines, Larry, and to purchase his wines directly, please visit the Tercero Wines website.
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