This Christmas, we're going to be shining a little spotlight on wines that we love from independent producers that are worth celebrating. These wines just hit all the right notes for us, and we strongly recommend you give them a try this winter.
The next producer we're looking at is Qupé (pronounced 'kyoo-pay') in California. USA may be known for making their wines bigger and bolder but due to the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean along the Central Coast of Santa Barbara Country, Qupé take a different route.
Being along the coast means that cold, moist air gets pulled in and creates a layer of morning cloud cover over the vines, which reduces temperatures and sun exposure on the grapes. This is why cool climate varieties excel in the coastal regions of the Central Coast and allows Qupé to focus on cool climate expressions of Rhône varietals.
So much so, that they are a proud member of the Rhône Rangers, America’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to promoting American Rhône varietal wines. Their founder, Bob Lindquist, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 and the Californian poppy logo of the winery is now world renowned.
We're showcasing two of their wines that show off their style brilliantly. Long-time customers may recognise them, as we've had them in the range previously and it's great to have them back!
The fruit for this Syrah is sourced from various vineyards on the Central Coast starting as far south as the Santa Ynez Valley up to the Adelaida District in northern Paso Robles. There's a little grenache and other varieties added to offer some extra character and balance. The wine is delicious, with aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant and coffee followed by a fruit-filled and savoury palate, with a spicy smoky character and refreshing acidity. It's a big satisfying mouthful but never jammy and the use of French oak gives this a supple texture that makes it very easy to drink. A wine to enjoy with a rump steak and fries.
"We love Qupé wines. They've been a favourite for years. This Syrah is just a joy to drink. It is inspired by the rich and spicy wines of France's Rhône Valley, but it has a plenty of American bold style too."
This is American Chardonnay made with a nod to French finesse. The fruit is sourced primarily from Bien Nacido Vineyard in the cool Santa Maria Valley of northern Santa Barbara County where the soil is a mix of gravel and sand. It's all handpicked and barrel fermented in French oak and aged for 8 months on the lees (yeast) which enhances the texture. In the glass you find aromas of citrus, pears, baking spice and oak. On the palate it has mouth-coating viscosity balanced by naturally fresh, crisp acidity. It is rich but completely dry, making it a very nicely structured Chardonnay. This would be delicious with chicken cooked with bacon and mushrooms in a creamy white wine sauce.
"I've got a real soft spot for well-made Chardonnay and this is a bit of an old favourite. There's a great purity of fruit to Qupé wines and it has just enough oak influence to add the richness and body that makes it so satisfying."