I've known Doug Margerum from as far back as 1991. My first meet up with him was at Harry's, best described as a proper drinkingman's bar in Santa Barbara. I met up with him via a lunch with Au Bon Climat winemaker Jim Clendenen and Qupe's Bob Lindquist. I had just moved to California and was working in Orange County, and had taken a three day weekend. Clendenen had organized lunch and instead of wine, we drank Martini's. Lots of Martinis. Doug and I became friends and I became a regular, annual trekker some years later to the Santa Barbara Futures Tasting that he organized at his then restaurant, The Wine Cask, which perhaps did more for Santa Barbara County's then emerging wine industry than even Sideways has done. You see, Pinot Noir was only one grape that Margerum was able to draw attention to at the annual twice in a month tasting event.
Fast forward a decade or so and Margerum began to make wine under his own name. Along the way he had worked with the likes of Clendenen and Lindquist on wines for the Wine Cask. Some of my most memorable Central Coast Pinot Noirs were under the Wine Cask label, but secretly we knew that the mind behind the wine was Jim C. No matter, Doug was learning winemaking, and when he started to make his own, on his own, the M3 was his first big breakthrough. Now called M5, the Rhone blend is perhaps the best Rhone blend made in the USA since Bob Lindquist and his Los Olivos Cuvee, under the Qupe label. For Doug, the wine is a way to relive his trips to the Rhone Valley as a teen, learning the wines and enjoying the five different grapes that goes into the blend today. One of those is Grenache, a hardly understood red varietal here in the USA, but one that has fascinated winemakers like Margerum, along with Core Wine's David Corey and Kaena (and now Beckman's) wine maker Mikael Sigouin for many years. Like that Santa Barbara County trio, I've been as intrigued as I regularly drink Grenache based Rhones ranging from big boned Chateauneuf du Papes to the bone dry Tavel Rose and everything in between.
That's why I'm enjoying this lovely Rose made from all Grenache. The 2009 Margerum Wine Company Rose is a stunning garnet colored "pink" wine that has the balls and the body to stand up to Mexican roasted chile salsa, as well as very crispy, organic crust, tomato and garlic sauce based pizzetta, cooked in the convection style pizza oven. Much darker than the Tempier Bandol Rose, or even the Tavel's I drink every Memorial Day, the Margerum Rose is dry, but it's fruit ladened with ripe raspberry, strawberry and even a hint of black-raspberry fruit. It's also silky, smooth and very easy to drink. In my mind this is more reminiscent of a Rose from the Languedoc or even Spain, than from the Rhone or possibly even an Italian Rosato....and given Doug spent a lot of time in Italy only a few years back, I'm not at all surprised. Only 100 cases of this charming wine was made. Get them while you can.
Friends and long time followers of WineScene, dating back to the WinePals era of the late 80s and early 90s, including any surviving members of the Compuserve Wine Forum will know I used to be a huge California Chardonnay fan, but somewhere along the way if it was Au Bon Climat, Dehlinger, Matanzas Creek, Qupe, or Kalin, I tended to look elsewhere for the classic white Burgundian grape so when the opportunity came along to open up a bottle of a current release Chardonnay I decided to try a recent arrival, that being the 2008 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Chardonnay to see if someone else was going to break my aversion to any but Chardonnay.
The Patz & Hall is a lovely white, though I wouldn't store it more than 3-5 years, as I suspect its charm is in its youthful vigor. Almonds, hazelnut, granny apples, fresh first pick peaches, a hint of vanilla (likely from the oak barrels) and more importantly, what's not there. I'm referring to the overblown, butter and butterscotch taste that has for years dominated so many of the California Chards, that I just gave up. Even Aussie Chards, go in a different direction, including one of my favorites, the Trevor Jones Virgin Chardonnay or another delightful Chardonnay from South Africa, the Glen Carlou.
The Patz and Hall though not a virgin Chardonnay (meaning it never sees oak) is one of those that will have the Chardonnay crowd enjoying this wine as a sipper all by itself or as a perfect accompaniment to butterfish, trout or salmon.
If you are thinking about attending the annual Hospice du Rhone is Paso Robles this year, don't leave home without your iPhone.
The tasty new application becomes available on Monday, April 5th and then. The application features over 1000 Rhône wines and 174 international Rhône wine producers and importers who will be at the 2010 event. "From inside the application you will have the ability to sort by attending producers, variety and region or filter by any combination. The application sports trivia quizzes and Twitter integration along with a few fun features that will be divulged as the event nears."
Great move by the organizers. Wine events need to be more "organized" for those who have a serious love of a certain wine, wine producer or grape. Not to mention just knowing what's being poured by whom.