Wine is a living food and from the vineyard to the cellar it’s full of intrigue.
The mystery of wine is so much more tantalizing than, for example, testing water samples. And that’s precisely what motivated Brad Holstine to become an engineer turned vintner –– to trade up for the field of winemaking.
Holstine is behind our wine-of-the week winner –– the Husch, 2017 Mendocino Chenin Blanc at $13.
The Husch has gorgeous aromas of stone fruit –– white peach and nectarine –– that follow through on the palate. It manages to be both lush yet nimble, buoyed by bright acidity. The finish is irresistible, a coupling of citrus and honeysuckle. It’s not only a steal for the price –– it’s striking.
The house style Holstine is shooting for is food-friendly, fruit forward and off dry with bright acidity highlighting stone fruit.
“It has the body of a chardonnay, it has some weight on the palate, but it has the aromatics of a lighter style wine,” Holstine said. “You don’t see chenin blanc much in the market place so most people don’t know what a wonderful food pairing wine it is.”
Holstine said he first fell in love with wine in 1994 while working the harvest at Saucelito Canyon in the Arroyo Grande Valley near San Luis Obispo. He was studying engineering at Cal Poly at the time, and eventually graduated with a degree in environmental engineering in 1996.
“I was living off the grid, learning to grow and make phenomenal zinfandel while applying/adapting a seemingly unrelated engineering education to enology,” he said.
Ultimately Holstine said joining the world of winemaking was a smart move.
“There’s a good mix of science but respect for the art of winemaking,” he said.
Naturally, he said, winemaking also includes that unspoken truce — making peace with Mother Nature.
“The 2017 harvest was a bear,” Holstine said. “We had three weeks of 100 degree temperatures … the chenin blanc grapes rode the heat spike two thirds of the way through before it was harvested.”
The chief winemaker said he harvested the wines, letting taste trump numerical calculations.
“In this case the fruit was tasting great, but the numbers were showing us the fruit was underripe,” Holsstine said. “Even when chenin blanc is picked early, it still has a honeyed note on the finish. I’m tickled to death with the results.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-521-5310 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
THIS WEEK’S BLIND TASTING: Refreshing whites
TOP PICK: Husch, 2017 Mendocino Chenin Blanc, 12.6% alcohol, $13. ★★★★
Gorgeous aromas of stone fruit –– white peach and nectarine –– follow through on the palate. The Husch manages to be both lush yet nimble, buoyed by bright acidity. The finish is irresistible, a coupling of citrus and honeysuckle. It’s not only a steal for the price — it’s striking.
Smith-Madrone, 2015 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Riesling, 12.9%, $30. ★★★★: This complex riesling has layered notes of papaya, petrol and honeysuckle. It’s nice and dry, with bright acidity. Pitch-perfect balance. Impressive.
Dry Creek Vineyard, 2017 Clarksburg, Dry Chenin Blanc, 13%, $15. ★★★★: This chenin blanc is refreshing, crisp and dry. Lovely notes of orange blossom, mango and honeysuckle. This is bright and lively, with a range of flavors. Finishes crisp, with a breezy note of white peach. Well crafted.
Dutton Goldfield, 2017 Chileano Valley Vineyard, Petaluma Gap Riesling, 13.9%, $30. ★★★★: Rich notes of apricot, lemon curd and honey are kept in check with crisp acidity. Refreshing citrus notes of lemon and lime are in the mix. This is a delightful riesling.
Pieropan, 2016 Soave Classico, Italy, 12%, $18. ★★★1/2: A pretty white with a creamy texture, balanced with great minerality. Layered notes of peach, apple and nectarine. Bright finish. Lovely.