ROAR Wines is
a small family winery specializing in small lots of Santa Lucia Highland’s
Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay. Both Gary and Rosella Franscioni grew up in
California’s agricultural heartland where Gary’s family has farmed for over 100
years. After graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in agribusiness, Gary took
over the running of the family farm business, which owned and managed over 200
acres of row crops in the Salinas Valley. Recognizing the region’s potential
for premium wine grapes, they planted their first vineyard in 1996 and named it
for Rosella. In 1997 they planted the Garys’ Vineyard in partnership with their
good friends and fellow grape growers, the Pisoni family. Since then they’ve
planted two more vineyards; the “high-altitude” Sierra Mar Vineyard located at
1000ft above the valley floor and the Soberanes Vineyard, located on one of the
region’s oldest land grants.
In 2001, after working with several wineries
to develop the pedigree of the vineyards and the region, they began making
their own wine. “As third generation growers, the goal with ROAR Wines is to
make small lots of wine that are a pure reflection of the Santa Lucia
Highlands, and in particular, the signature flavors of the vines,” says Gary.
The name ROAR comes from the sound of the Monterey Bay winds that roar through
the vineyards, as well as the thrilling sound of a roaring crowd.
and floral aromas open the gates to a rich depth of textured fruit. White peach
and lemon cream fill the palate, enveloped by woodsy herbs, green tea, and
jasmine. These fruit and floral elements continue to blossom over time, as a
thread of graphite emerges to wind through a bright fruit finish layered with
hints of crème brulée and honey.
style of our Sauvignon Blanc has been created by a confluence of factors. A key
component of this wine is the highly floral Sauvignon Musqué selection from
Sancerre, which comprises one-third of the blend. The Shenandoah clone balances
this out nicely with its classic herbal, somewhat grassy character. For the
first time, a substantial proportion of grapes were harvested from their own
young estate vineyards — nearly 30 percent. 18 percent new barrels were used to
help to moderate green flavors. Elevage in barrel also allows for our biweekly
lees-stirring, vital to developing rich mouthfeel. There is a bright,
shimmering, green-gold hue of this Sauvignon Blanc. Its enticing aroma is
highly perfumed with honeysuckle, citrus blossom, white rose and gardenia.
Honeydew melon, nectarine, ripe Rainier cherry, tangerine, Kaffir lime and
summer hay add complexity, along with hints of sweet oak and toasted hazelnut.
On the palate, vibrant acidity is finely balanced with a rich, creamy mouthfeel
creating a unique textural experience — reminiscent of a refreshing blood
orange sorbet. The finish is broad and lingers with sweet pink grapefruit and
Meyer lemon zest.
The Le Mesnil
co-operative was established in 1937 in the heart of the Grand Cru village of
Le Mesnil Sur Oger in the Côtes des Blancs, which is widely regarded as the
source of the region’s best Chardonnay. Currently, the winery is owned by the
Union des Propriétaires-Récoltants, who collectively own around 754 acres of
vineyard, with winemaker Gilles Margue at the helm. Margue, who joined the
winery in 2001 and was promoted in 2005, has a National Diploma in Oenology and
has worked internationally in California, New Zealand, and in South Africa.
Vineyards are located half on the plains and half on the hillsides, taking full advantage of the sun. Under Gilles Marguet, the principles of “la lutte raisonnée” are applied, limiting the use of chemicals, and yields are restricted by pruning to 4-5 buds in each cane. The vineyards all have excellent hydric qualities due to the base layer of chalk in the soil, which retains water even during droughts, thus allowing the Chardonnay to reach its full potential. 100% of the vineyards are ranked Grand Cru.
Every step of
the vinification process is carried out with the utmost respect. Modern and
well equipped cellars allow them to work according to time respected
traditions, whilst enabling them to closely monitor each cuvee. Wines are aged
for a minimum of three years in the co-operative’s chalk cellars, resulting in
Champagne that is finessed and ethereal, with fine acidity. Following release,
non-vintage wines can be cellared for three to five years and vintage wines for
up to twenty years depending on the vintage. Their Le Mesnil Non-Vintage cuvee
recently won a gold medal at the “Chardonnay du Monde” competition in
This particular cuvee is made by blending various parcels of Chardonnay qualities which give the wines their complex and mouth-waterring flavours. This seductive Champagne is a reflection of the house style of Le Mesnil and is perfect throughout a meal, from aperitif to dessert and indeed at any time of the day or night. The Blanc de Blancs is 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru and comes from 2014 with 90%, 5% harvest 2013, and 5% harvest 2010. Bottling then occurred in April 2015, minimum 3 years of aging in cellar. Disgorging occurred in 2018 as BRUT (sugar dosage 9.6 g/l). This wine appears light, green-tinged yellow. Mineral-accented aromas and flavors of candied orange, pear, white flowers, and ginger. Juicy and precise, presenting lively citrus and orchard fruit flavors underscored by chalky minerality. Dry and incisive on the finish, which shows outstanding clarity and persistence.
Mountain District is a relatively small AVA at the northern end of Napa
Valley. The eponymous
Diamond Mountain forms part of the Mayacamas Mountains, which divide Napa
from Sonoma Valley. Like most of the rest of the famous area, Diamond
Mountain District’s wines are based largely on Cabernet Sauvignon, making big, bold red wines with good structure and a
lot of potential for cellaring.
Rudy and Rita von Strasser set out looking for a vineyard property to make their home. Having already developed a deep passion and talent for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Rudy was committed that the property must be in a microclimate blessed with the ability to grow and produce the finest red wines in Napa Valley; wines worthy to carry the von Strasser family name. Serendipitously, the old Roddis Estate Winery on Diamond Mountain had just been put on the market, and in the spring of 1990, the von Strasser label was born.
The history of the property reads like a who’s who of early California Cabernet History. After being denied a permit to turn his estate into a golf course, William Bounsall decided to subdivide his property, and in 1968 sold 1/3 of his property to Albert Brounstein. Canadian born, Al pioneered the modern decade of winemaking in this AVA by planting Cabernet Sauvignon in three distinct vineyard sites and bottling each separately under the name Diamond Creek Vineyards. The next year, 1969, Bounsall himself decided to get into the grape business and planted 2 acres to Cabernet Sauvignon with bud-wood from the famous Martha’s Vineyard. In 1978, Bill Roddis bought the Bounsall ranch and started Roddis Cellars. The wines were made by Andre Tcheistcheff, and in their days where considered by many to be the biggest wines made in the Napa Valley. In 1985, the winery was sold to the Gilby family (British gin), who used it as a corporate retreat. The vineyards, now totaling about 7 acres, were leased to Pine Ridge Winery, who bottled the grapes separately as their “Diamond Mountain” Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1990, Rudy and Rita von Strasser bought the property and began the fulfilling task of renovating and modernizing the estate and the vineyards to make the property one of the gems of Diamond Mountain.
The building that houses the winery is an historic barn that was built in the late 1880’s. Through careful planning it has been remodeled into a modern winemaking facility while retaining its working-ranch charm. To take full advantage of the hillside location and to better control the variables of winemaking, the von Strassers added caves to their property. Dug into the virgin hills, these caves retain an ideal climate for barrel aging, and average temperature of 55 degrees and an average humidity of 80% initial
taste read “coffee and chocolate followed by red currant on the nose that leads
to a powerful and intense burst on the
palate. The strength of the palate is moderated by detailing a stony mineral
flavor, with freshness to shift the dark blueberry-skin chewiness of the
The Clos des Brusquières is an old property, owned by the
Courtil-Thibaut family, whose cellars are located in what appears to be a
family house on the edge of the village. It’s a very low-key operation, run by
Claude and his two sons, David and Jérome. Inherited from his grandfather,
Claude’s father died when he was only three years old and so the vineyard was
rented out for several years until he was old enough to take control. The
domaine extends to some 10 hectares of vines, divided into numerous parcels,
including one within the walls of the château itself. The vineyards include all
thirteen varieties permitted in the appellation but, like Bonneau, there is a
strong reliance on Grenache, which accounts for up to 80% of the blend. The
white varieties are simply vinified with the red grapes, since there is only
one single red expression of Châteauneuf-du-Pape produced here. Initially the
nose gives off things like vanilla, toast, tobacco, red fruit, cedar. It’s
layered with subtle thyme, clove , cinnamon , black pepper, and dust. Moving to
the taste the wine gives the palate black currant, blackberry, leather,
blueberry, blackberry, and violet. The vanilla from the oak is evident along
with the smoke and toast that was on the nose.
vintage was yet another drought year – the fifth in a row in the Napa Valley.
Though the little rain that did fall came at the right time. The vines got a
healthy dose of water before and after budbreak, when they need the water for a
burst of growth. The spring and early summer were warm and dry, and the days
grew hotter as summer progressed. It seemed as though we would have another
early harvest due to the heat of late-August and early-September. However, the
days cooled enough for the grapes to mature more slowly, allowing flavor to
develop and tannin to mature prior to harvesting. After pressing, the wine was
moved into oak barrels where it underwent malolactic fermentation. 75% of these
barrels were new barrels and the balance were once-filled barrels. 88% of their
Merlot barrels were French Oak Bordeaux barrels and 12% were American Oak
barrels. A touch of Malbec was added to the blend to add depth and weight to
the palate. The Merlot was aged for 19 months before bottling. The mild climate
and alluvial soils of the Oak Knoll District lend this wine great balance and
structure. The alluvial soils bring darker fruits to the nose and palate, and
give this wine its structure and concentration. The 2016 vintage has layers of
aromatics ranging from black cherry, plum, and raspberry to graham cracker,
vanilla, butterscotch, and sweet hickory smoke. These flavors extend to the
palate, which has a rich and silky entry with bright acidity and firm
structure, resulting in great tension, balance, and persistence on the finish.