2007 Inspiration - White Rhone Blend
California: Santa Barbara County: Santa Ynez Valley
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Mission Codename: Inspired For Greatness
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit our good friends at Epiphany Cellars (Fess Parker) to retrieve their
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Epiphany Cellars
Wine Subject: 2007 Inspiration White Rhone Blend
Winemaker: Blair Fox
France’s Rhone Valley stretches from Vienne in the north down to the Arles in the south may be best known for its intricate blends of red varietals as demonstrated by its legendary Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but the white varietals of this region are not to be underestimated. It is in the spirit of these unique Terrior driven white varietals that inspires today’s selection. Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc, all native to the Rhone Valley find an excellent home in California’s Santa Ynez Valley just north of Santa Barbara.
The Santa Ynez Valley, in Santa Barbara county is influenced but not dominated by the proximity to the Pacific Ocean. A little elevation and well drained soil makes for an ideal environment for viticulture as demonstrated by the range of great wines from the region.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Clear pale yellow core fading to straw yellow and pale clear along the edges. When swirled fast and thin clusters of legs streak down the glass followed by a widely space slow thin legs.
Smell – Fragrant with vivid tropical fruit (pineapple and melon) followed by a complex salty and nutty component. A touch of orange blossom and honey followed by a touch of spice and almonds rounds out the nose.
Feel – This full-bodied white has good and well textured weight and bright but balance acidity and tannins followed by a touch of spice and tanginess that lingers into the finish.
Taste – Bright and fresh flavors of tropical fruit with rich fresh white peach and Anjou pear are layered over hints of honey, spice, toasted nuts and a touch of oak and a slight hint of grass.
Finish – Clean and tangy with lingering bright and tart fruit and touch of spice that is well supported by this wines balanced weigh and structure.
Conclusion – The 2007 Epiphany Inspiration is a great food friendly white wine with great character and fresh vibrant flavors. A fresh and aromatic nose, balanced structure that lingers, bright fruit and enough complexity to keep things interesting. Will even please those who ‘only drink reds’. Enjoy this wine with grilled spicy Mexican-style chicken.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Blair Fox
DATE OF BIRTH: 10/74
PLACE OF BIRTH: Santa Barbara, CA
WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Enologist for Fess Parker Winery ’99, Winemaker Sunstone Winery 99-02, Consultant winemaker fess Parker Winery 02, Vintage Winemaker- Haselgrove Winery- McLaren Vale South Australia 03, Associate Winemaker in charge of the Rhone Varietal programs at Fess Parker 03-05, Head Winemaker for Fess Parker Winery 05-present
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: I spend a lot of time in the vineyard because I feel that wines are truly made in the vineyard. I try to show the different qualities of the different vineyards and create wines with distinct varietal character.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: I have always been particularly fond of Syrah.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Traveling throughout the Rhone Valley in France and tasting some of the best examples of Syrah and other Rhone varietals the world has to offer.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: I feel privileged to work with some of the best vineyards and fruit in Santa Barbara County.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Blair. We are thrilled to be working with you again. This time around, we are showing your Inspiration. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BLAIR: Thank you for showing my wine today.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WINEMAKER: My parents were always traveling the globe and bringing home wines to be drunk around the dinner table. I was planning on going to medical school to become a doctor but was lured into the Viticulture and Enology program at UC Davis.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
BLAIR: I really enjoyed the viticulture side of the program, but then fell in love with the enology courses and being able to see the conversion of grapes to a final wine.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
BLAIR: I feel the best wines are made in the vineyard. You have to be diligent with your vineyard practices to grow grapes worthy of making great wine. It is all about fruit quality, canopy management and managing your yields to produce the most exciting wines possible.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BLAIR: I am impressed by all great wines made around the world. I have gained experience making wines in two different hemispheres and like a sponge have absorbed as much knowledge from every winemaker I have ever worked with.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
BLAIR: This is my 13th vintage.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
BLAIR: I make wines to be enjoyed by all. At Fess Parker Winery we have various levels of wine from less expensive to quite expensive. I feel the consumer gets a very good value for the quality of our wines across the board.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Santa Barbara region so special?
BLAIR: Santa Barbara is a very unique region. We have very cool areas such as the Santa Rita Hills, which is the ultimate place to grow high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and we have the more interior Santa Ynez Valley where some of the most exciting Rhone varietals in the world are grown.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
BLAIR: It is our Epiphany 2007 Inspiration. It was created to emulate the classic white wines of the Southern Rhone. It is a blend of 36% Marsanne, 30% Roussanne, 24% Viognier and 10% Grenache Blanc. It is grown entirely on our estate vineyards. The wines were barrel fermented and aged for 10 months and then blended prior to bottling.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BLAIR: Pan seared Halibut
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
BLAIR: I am very casual about my approach to wine. I feel wines are best drunk with food, but are also great as an aperitif or after dinner. I feel you should drink what you enjoy regardless of price or region. It is fun to be adventurous with wine and see what else is out there.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
BLAIR: I love Syrah and would choose something like an old Grange from Penfolds or Cote Rotie from the Northern Rhone.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Epiphany Cellars in Solvang can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
Close to 60% of this blend came from our Rodney’s Vineyard (36% Marsanne & 24% Viognier) and the balance was sourced from our Camp Four Vineyard (30% Roussanne & 10% Grenache Blanc).All of the white Rhones were immaculate when they arrived at the winery. We chose to barrel ferment the Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne, a decision that imparts the rich texture and palate weight to the wine, while the Viognier was fermented in stainless steel to help retain freshness and aromatics in this wine.
The result is a wonderfully satisfying yet still delicate, balanced wine. You will find fresh, forward tropical fruit flavors and a slight honey character stemming from the Roussanne and Grenache Blanc alongside bright melon and peach flavors held together with a beam of acidity from the Viognier and Marsanne. Truly not a wine to miss!
About The Winery:
When Fess Parker was cast in the roll of Davy Crockett in the mid-1950’s, it caused an international sensation and changed his life forever. So too did the purchase of 714 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley change the course of the Parker family’s history.
Realizing the potential of Santa Barbara County as a premium grape-growing region, Fess and his son, Eli, originally set out in 1989 to plant a small vineyard and sell fruit to local producers. But, as Fess’ daughter, Ashley explains, “ Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small. “The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard now farms almost 700 acres on four vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County.
The characters Fess portrayed, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, inspired generations of Americans. Throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s Fess was at the pinnacle of a television career that has an unprecedented impact upon American popular culture. But is was Fess’ entrepreneurial spirit that prompted his leaving Hollywood to go into business for himself. The traits that Crockett and Boone embodied – integrity, resourcefulness and good humor — carried over to Fess’ personal life and formed the foundation upon which the family business was built. First-class hospitality has always been at the core of their ventures, first as hoteliers and eventually with the opening of the winery.
Working as a family has always been a great source of pride and pleasure for the Parker family. Eli Parker began in the family business as assistant winemaker in 1989. After several years of learning the craft at the side of renowned and accomplished winemakers, Eli took the reigns as winemaker himself with the 1995 vintage. A leader of the winery since it’s inception, it was in 1996 that Eli formally assumed the title and responsibilities of President. In the early 1990’s, Ashley ran the first tastings out of the barrel room and represented the winery at trade shows. In 1998, Ashley became Eli’s partner, working on the public relations and sales and marketing teams. The presence of Fess and his wife Marcy as the founding visionaries of the winery is a vital and enduring one.
About The Winemaker:
BLAIR FOX – Head Winemaker – Graduating from UC Davis in 1999 with a combined degree in Viticulture and Enology, Blair Fox gained winemaking experience at Sunstone Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley (1999-2001), and at Haselgrove Winery – a custom-crush winery in McLaren Vale, Australia (2003).
He also traveled through France’s Rhône Valley before returning to his hometown of Santa Barbara. He then joined Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard as Associate Winemaker, overseeing the Rhône varietal wines. Fox had previously consulted in the vineyard for the winery’s 2002 harvest.
“Having focused on the winery’s estate Syrah and Rhône varietal vineyards, I’m excited to add on the responsibility for Ashley’s and Bien Nacido vineyards and control the Burgundian part of our portfolio (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay),” said Fox. “The vineyards and clonal selection here are of such high quality, and the Parkers are a great family to work for.”
Fox continues the stylistic direction set by Eli Parker when capturing the terroir of the vineyards. He aims to continue raising the bar for the award-winning Fess Parker wines, such as the 2001 Rodney’s Vineyard Syrah (91pts, Wine Advocate), 2002 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir (93pts, Wine Spectator), and 2001 American Tradition Reserve Syrah, (92pts, Wine Advocate).
Appellation: Santa Ynez Valley
Composition: 36% Marsanne, 30% Roussanne, 24% Viognier & 10% Grenache Blanc
Vineyard source: 45 % Camp Four Vineyard & 55% Rodney’’s Vineyard
Barrel aging: 10 months, Oak profile1/3rd new French Oak Burgundy Barrels
Alcohol: 14.7% alcohol by volume
Release date: October 1st, 2008
Cases made: 430 cases