A bright, vibrant, pinkish-salmon hue telegraphs the purity of this dry Vin Gris of Pinot Noir. Heady aromas of Spring and Summer jump out of the glass with notes of fresh strawberry, rose and ripe peach. A sip expands upon the aromatics, as flavors of freshly-picked, perfectly-ripened white peach or nectarine are balanced by a zippy, citrusy backbone of Meyer lemon and blood orange zest that come together to reveal a beautifully structured wine. The long, crisp finish is supported by a hint of tannin that makes this wine ideal for culinary exploration.
When Green Turns to Pink...
A Quarter Century of Rosé!
A quarter century ago, RSV converted the vineyards to organics. Twenty five years ago, RSV began producing the Vin Gris of Pinot Noir. Coincidence?… I don’t think so.
The year was 1991 and Jeff Virnig had just been promoted to winemaker. Jeff thought that if we were going to farm organically, we had to find a methodology to create higher quality wine organically. That was when he suggested the teachings of Rudolph Steiner and Biodynamic farming.
Steiner was not a farmer. Though he was considered by many to be the “great peasant,” his university studies included science, philosophy and literature. His desire was to merge the scientific, physical world with the spiritual world.
Modern, industrial-chemical farming was taking hold in Europe after WWI when Steiner and the farmers of the Anthroposophical Society became concerned that the new techniques were destroying the quality and nutritional content of food. Steiner’s words bring home the idea that “we are what we eat” and, after offering his lecture series on Agriculture, he directed his students to: “…make the benefits of our agricultural preparations available to the largest possible areas over the entire earth, so that the earth may be healed and the nutritive quality of its produce improved in every respect… Nutrition, as it is today, does not supply the strength necessary for manifesting the spirit in physical life. A bridge can no longer be built from thinking to will and action. Food plants no longer contain the forces people need for this.”
Farming is not nature, but rather the farmer’s attempt to impose order on nature for his or her own benefit. However, if a farmer can take cues from nature, they can encourage natural processes in a way that helps to compensate for the damage done by imposing their will on the land. By embracing nature’s rhythms we can then create produce - or wine - that is healthier for the planet and tastier and healthier for the consumer.
Looking back to 1991, highly-manipulated, chemical-farmed, sweet-pink wine was the norm. I believed those sugary libations were destroying the reputation of American wine in general and California Rosé in particular. The thought was to create a pure wine, from optimally farmed fruit, that could be handled delicately in the cellar so as not to mask its elegant vitality.
Many people have told us that RSV’s Vin Gris of Pinot Noir just keeps getting better every vintage… and that makes sense to us. RSV’s vineyards are in better shape now than they were twenty five years ago. We credit the organic farm methods for the impeccable fruit that allows a “less is more” approach in creating a great “Pink” wine.
I affectionately call RSV’s Vin Gris “The Pink” even though, depending on vintage, the color varies from pale onion skin to salmon. I’d be shocked if the color was truly pink, yet “The Pink” remains my shorthand for the Vin Gris of Pinot Noir in phrases like: “Can’t wait to get my hands on The Pink”- “Had a bottle of The Pink this weekend with (fill in the blank)” - “How many bottles of The Pink did you score?” and on and on...
I enjoyed a bottle of “The Pink” this weekend with Seared Hamachi, Espelette Pepper and Citrus-Fennel Salad. Other than the fish, it was a locavore’s dream. The Pink had just come off the bottling line, the citrus was pulled from the trees surrounding our house in the Carneros and the fennel came from the RSV garden. It was perfect timing - and it was glorious!
The Pink can handle a little spice, but not too much. It can handle fish, but not too “fishy” of a fish. It loves citrus, particularly blood orange, because of its zippy acidity. Fennel, with its sweet anise flavor, seems to ground the heady wild strawberry and white peach fruit aromas and flavors of the wine. All in all, the dish is pretty spot-on when it comes to matching it with The Pink. So go forth and drink “The Pink!”
Until the Next Wine....
A pure wine starts with pure grapes. RSV Vin Gris of Pinot Noir begins with prime, organically farmed (following the teachings of Rudolph Steiner) Pinot Noir from two of RSV’s Los Carneros Vineyards.
The 2016 harvest was smaller than average, but a little larger than the prior vintage. Lots were night harvested between August 23rd and September 2nd. The selected vineyard blocks were picked at 21-22 degrees Brix, which allowed for beautiful flavor development and a finished wine with alcohol well under the 13.5 mark. These conditions also allowed the grapes to maintain natural acidity to give the wine a balanced, bright and crisp character.