Wine of the week: Quivira 2017 Wine Creek Ranch Rosé

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When it comes to the palate, which camp are you in with the nature vs. nurture debate?

Is the palate destined by DNA, or can it have a sublime imprinting over time? For example, if one is weaned on crisp German rieslings, will that palate naturally be calibrated to search out wines with a refreshing quench?

This appears to be the case with Hugh Chappelle, the winemaker at Healdsburg’s Quivira. When he was a child, his German mother introduced him to some of the finest rieslings from the Mosel. Today, Chappelle says he crafts his rosé in the same style as those “thirst-quenching” German rieslings.

“I love the juicy, crisp refreshing whites,” Chappelle said. “Thirst quenching is definitely what we want our rosé to end up with. Otherwise I would feel like we missed the mark.”

Chappelle’s rosé definitely delivered on quench in The Press Democrat’s blind tasting. At $22, the Quivira 2017 Wine Creek Ranch Rosé from Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley is as refreshing as an ocean breeze. It’s buoyed by bright acidity and has high-toned fruit with tangy notes of rhubarb and pomegranate. It finishes crisp, and it’s a knockout.

The Rhone rosé is weighted to grenache at 47 percent. The other varietals in the mix are 25 percent mourvèdre, 15 percent petite sirah, 8 percent counoise and 5 percent syrah.

“The best rosés I’ve ever tasted are from the Rhone grapes,” Chappelle said. “The mix of grapes are well suited to it. When blended, they bring a seamless balance and create a more consistent, high quality every year. With this blend, you can hit a bull’s eye.”

People are sometimes surprised by how dry rosés are these days, Chappelle said. And they don’t realize how well they pair with food.

Chappelle, 56, joined Quivira as winegrower in July 2010. His Sonoma County credits include a stint at Lynmar Estate and, before that, Flowers.

“I do feel like I won the lottery by doing something I love,” Chappelle said. “It’s a mix of disciplines –– science, agriculture, business and creativity. At the end of the day, you can hold it in your hand. It’s not a molecule you’re looking at in a spectrophotometer.”

On the contrary, when Chappelle looks through his rosé-colored glass, he can sense the surf.

“For sheer drinkability, a good, dry rosé is one of the most refreshing wines out there.”

Wine Writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-521-5310 or

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