Wine of the week: Quivira Vineyards, 2019 Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Wine Creek Ranch Rosé
The vintage 2020, for many wineries, will be remembered as a race against time. Rescuing grapes on the vine was a herculean task because of the wildfires, evacuation orders and power outages.
“The fires this year have come at a particularly difficult time, at the beginning of harvest,” said Hugh Chappelle, winemaker of Healdsburg’s Quivira Vineyards. “On top of the fires, we’ve been under evacuation orders, have had no power and were not able to start harvest when we wanted to. We just started picking our estate vineyards on Aug. 25 and are working hard to catch up.”
The unfazed winemaker, who said he’s reached a “disaster plateau,” is behind our wine of the week winner, Quivira Vineyards, 2019 Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Wine Creek Ranch Rosé at $24. This is an irresistible rosé with the accent on its sassy, high-toned fruit — cranberry, rhubarb and currant. It has bright acidity, pitch-perfect balance and a tangy finish. The Quivira rosé is absolutely striking.
Other well-crafted rosés include Sangiacomo, 2019 Petaluma Gap, Roberts Road Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, $30; MacRostie, 2019 Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir Rosé, $28; Ram’s Gate, 2019 Sonoma Coast Rosé, $38 and Davis Bynum, 2019 Jane’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Rosé of Pinot Noir, $25.
As for the Quivira rosé, Chappelle said he’s shooting for a Provençal style that embraces an intentional approach.
“We farm for rosé, pick for rosé and ferment for rosé, which is the Provençal method,” the winemaker said. “We’re not picking at red-wine sugar levels, bleeding the tank and then fermenting.”
The rosé blend comprises grenache, mourvedre, syrah, counoise and nonclassic petite sirah varieties.
“Rosé is a great fit for Quivira because of our long-standing commitment to the southern Rhone red grapes,” Chappelle said. “We actually don’t focus on syrah but rather use syrah for blending. Our focus is grenache and mourvedre, which just so happen to be the best grapes for rosé if you look at the global benchmarks for rosé.”
Producing rosé is complicated, he said.
“The color can be unstable, the ‘sweet spot’ for alcohol balance is narrow, and it has to ‘look good.’ And for all that hard work, you need to keep the price reasonable.”
Wine has always piqued his interest, Chappelle said. His mother was from the Mosel region of Germany, and he grew up with wine as a part of daily meals.
The ex-biotech research scientist, 58, earned a UC Santa Cruz bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He later changed course, entering the graduate studies program in viticulture and enology at UC Davis. He joined Quivira in 2010.
With the onset of fire season, Chappelle said there’s an upside to calamity — camaraderie.
“These challenges have seemed to bring the grape-growing and winemaking communities even closer,” he said. “We’re truly all facing the same issues, and I have noticed much more of a collaborative attitude from almost everyone I’ve been dealing with. It’s heartening to see these challenges bringing out the best in people.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 707-521-5310.
Wine, The Press Democrat
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