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Photos and Text by Rachael Mattice
Sophisticated wine tasters used to have to travel to popular wine meccas such as Napa Valley, Sonoma, Paso Robles or even Temecula to test their palettes, but Orange County’s approximately 12 vineyards and countless wine bars are giving the behemoth wine regions and massive production companies a run for their money.
The latest trend that a few of these OC-based wineries are promoting for the hot summer season is Provence, France-originated rosés and the wedding season favorite sparkling wines. Here are a few of their featured and favorite picks suitable for both the seasoned and newbie wine taster.
Giracci Vineyards and Farms/A Stone’s Throw Winery
Planting their vineyard of 250 vines of each variety in 2008, Giracci Vineyards and Farms in Silverado has become a growing staple for smaller production, and later acquired the Hamilton Oaks name and tasting room in San Juan Capistrano that is now called A Stone’s Throw Winery. Joined, A Stone’s Throw/Giracci produce an assortment of vintages, most recently, a completely dry rosé blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, pinot noir and primitivo, or a combination of everything Giracci makes on their property.
“We try to concentrate all of our wines to get a deeper color and better extraction from the red wines,” said Chad Kearns, owner of Giracci Vineyards and Farms and A Stone’s Throw Winery. “A lot of winemakers in California used to throw (those contents) away, but I started making rosé out of it and then the (rosé trend) really hit and it became big in California.”
Totaling between $20-$25 a bottle, all of the vintages at Giracci are cost effective, Kearns said, and most of the wines include higher alcohol content at about 15 percent. The top tier quality is important to Kearns and Giracci winemaker Sébastien Noel, who educates guests on high-end characteristics of rosé such as clarity, aromatics, acidity and balance.
“Rosés are not typically meant to be sweet,” Noel said. “They are fermented dry and we only have a few (rosés) that we’ve left with sugar just because we are getting requests for that kind of thing.”
- Rosé: Giracci Dry Rosé, 2017, a blend of syrah, pinot noir, primitivo, cabernet sauvignon and white wine. Stored at cellar temperature at 58 degrees
- Lean meats such as turkey or chicken
Giracci Vineyards and Farms, 16162 Jackson Ranch Rd., Silverado, 714.602.1109, www.giracci.com. A Stone’s Throw Winery, 29943 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, 949.364.2063, www.stonesthrowwinery.com.
The Cellar in downtown San Clemente is one of the many bubbling wine bars and restaurants in South OC, featuring a broad assortment of sparkling wines as well as at least three rosé wines available by the glass, bottle or in a flight.
“Our Triennes rosé is super light with flavors of strawberry and melon,” said Monica Little, sommelier for The Cellar. “It’s on our happy hour menu and what people typically lean toward first. Our Ontañón is a style of Rosado and a blend of Viura, a white grape, and two different red wines, Tempranillo and Garnacha. It has a bit of pepper but is also really light. Although most people are familiar with sauvignon blancs from New Zealand, Spy Valley’s rosé is really refreshing with notes of grapefruit.”
According to Little, the only way The Cellar is able to offer three rosés by the glass for wine tasters is because of their drastic variations stylistically. The three rosés are available in a flight for $14. Champagne flights—including a Crémant, La Perle and Lambrusco— is also available.
This summer, The Cellar will also feature an adult twist on the childhood favorite snow cone–Frozé from Bota Box Rosé–or a frozen rosé slush treat.
- Sparkling Rosé: Perle de ma Mère La Perle Crémant de Bourgogne, Chassagne-Montrachet, France NV
- Rosé: Ontañón, Clarete, 2017, Rioja, Spain
- Rosé: Spy Valley, 2017, Marlborough, New Zealand
- Rosé: Triennes, 2017, Nans-Les-Vins, France
- Sparkling: Cascinetta Vietti, Moscato d’Asti, 2017, Castiglione Tinella, Italy
- Sparkling: Cremant D’Alsace, 2016, Hubert Meyer, Alsace, France NV
- Sparkling: Vigneto Cialdini Lambrusco, Cleto Chiarli, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Emilia-Romagna, Italy NV
- From The Cellar: “Truffle Popcorn,” “Burrat & Greens” salad, “Lock Duart Salmon” for rosés. “Fried Buttermilk Chicken Butty” sandwich or “Sidewinder Fries” for sparkling wine.
156 Avenida Del Mar, San Clemente. 949.492.3663. www.thecellarsite.com.
We Olive & Wine Bar
We Olive & Wine Bar’s San Juan Capistrano location is conveniently located within walking distance of the city’s historic landmarks and specializes in offering unique wines unavailable in major retailers like Costco or BevMo. Owner Ed Szubielski also said of the 57 wines he wanted to feature by the glass, eight or nine would also be from his other company EB Winery.
One EB Winery staple is the 2016 Rosé of Grenache, a distinct change of pace from the typical pinot noir-based rosé.
“The rosé grenache we made by mistake initially since we only get one shot at the fruit each year,” Szubielski said. “It turned out well for us because we wanted to bring in a rosé because they are hot right now.”
We Olive & Wine Bar now has a Thursday summer special on their featured six rosé wines, including happy hour prices all day.
- Rosé: Rosé of Grenache , EB Winery, 2016, Alta Mesa, California
- Rosé: Rosé Des Amis, ALC/VOL Des Amis Wines, 2017, Carmel, California
- Sparkling: NV Folktale Sparkling Rosé, Folktale Winery and Vineyards, Carmel, California
- Watermelon Salad at We Olive & Wine Bar: Watermelon bites, feta cheese, bacon and a balsamic vinaigrette drizzle.
31760 Camino Capistrano, Ste. B, San Juan Capistrano, 949.441.7279, www.weolive.com/san-juan-capistrano.
Vine Restaurant & Bar
Frequently anointed the perfect romantic date location by San Clemente locals, Vine Restaurant & Bar prides itself on providing high quality wines at valued prices.
“We want our guests to come in and enjoy our food and have plenty of options of wine to choose from,” said Gabe Whorely, partner at Vine Restaurant & Bar. “We’ve never been a big fan of being a happy hour spot. We want to give you the best price no matter what.”
JCB, No. 21 Brut Crémant de Bourgogne, is one of the top selling sparkling wines at Vine, or the “classic champagne” option, according to Whorely. At only $12 a glass, it has toasted almond flavors and a crisp finish.
- Sparkling: Prosecco, La Marca, DOC, Italy
- Sparkling: JCB, No. 21 Brut Crémant de Bourgogne, Burgundy, France
- Rosé: Rosé, Famille Perrin, 2016 Côtes du Rhône, Réserve, France
- From Vine Restaurant & Bar: “Market Fresh Oysters on the Half Shelf,” “Jumbo Lump Crab & Roasted Heirloom Beets.”
211 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, 949.361.2079, www.vinesanclemente.com.
To read more of the 2018 summer Go.See.Do. special section, click HERE: