Site 2013 Rousanne

Although not generally a fan of this grape, I tasted this last February with Jeremy Weintraub, the wine maker. It impressed then but tastings in such circumstances can be . . . well, they’re not the same as spending an evening with a bottle.
Last night was my evening and I am more impressed.
I expect viscosity, and got it but the acidity in this wine is exceptional - bright, uplifting yet never angular. The flavors are focused and layered and, I’d say, this wine has a nice life ahead in the cellar.
Probably the best domestic rendition of this variety I’ve tasted.
And stands with every world class rendition I’ve had, regardless of origin.
Impressive, is the right word.
Best, Jim

Jim, have you had the Qupe Hillside? Just trying to calibrate the best domestic rendition statement against what I would call the best domestic version I have tasted.

Living in California is teachin’ you religion!

I have but it’s been awhile so take my compliment accordingly.
Best, Jim

Not sure about religion but I think CA is one of, if not the, most exciting wine areas in the world, right now.
And me with pretty much an old world palate.
Who’d a thunk?
Best, Jim

IIRC, the Site Roussanne comes from the Stolpman Vineyard.

To me, the best domestic producers year I and year out for straight Roussannes are:

Stolpman and their L’Avion bottling
Qupe Bien Nacido Hillsides
Tablas Creek
Zaca Mesa

I also have some older bottles of Copain’s James Berry but alas no mas.

The challenge with most of these - they need at least a few years and perhaps a decade to really begin strutting their stuff . . .


Zaca Mesa is probably the only one listed that I have had. For the $, I think everything I have tasted from them has been good.

Exactly, Larry. I still haven’t figured out how to predict how a young Roussanne will age. Older ones are so different than young ones - and the ones that age well are so much better with 8-10+ years of age than young Roussannes IMHO, although I know not everyone agrees. The Qupé Roussannes (and Marsannes) have a track record of aging second to none in that respect for California.

I’d love to try the Site wines - had a really nice tasting with Jeremy at Adelaida in April but didn’t try any of his Site wines. He’s doing some good work with Adelaida and I’m sure we’ll see even better wines from them in the coming years.

Next time we get together, I’ll bring one of these. I’m guessing you’ll be favorably impressed.

I’ve not had the Zaca Mesa, from your list - 'certainly would be interested.
I must have had the Alban’s too young - they’ve been hard to figure.
Best, Jim

Would love to try one, Jim - thanks.

I’m not Larry but I have had all his list except the Alban. To my taste, the Zaca Mesa is good but a step down from the Qupe. I would consider the Tablas, Stolpman, and Zaca Mesa are all about the same quality. My personal preference would probably put the Stolpman last of the three and I don’t know if I have a preference between the Zaca Mesa for the vintages I have tasted but I have way more experience with the Tablas than the Zaca Mesa.

Lots of good recs here. Two more that are rarely mentioned here:
Kinero, Rustler (James Berry fruit). The '14 is particularly interesting as it was made in concrete and without oak iirc. It’s a fairly nuanced wine, but does have some of that glycerin that often comes with Roussanne.
Ojai makes a very elegant version that requires a little age to show its best.

About Tablas Creek: They do make a varietal Roussanne, but I feel that their Esprit Blanc is a much better wine. In fact that’s my general opinion of their wines. It’s the blends that really shine. The varietal wines are missing a dimension in comparison.

I hear this comment often, whether about Tablas or other producers that do both blends and stand alones.
Certainly, for complexity, nuance or whatever your term of choice is, wines of more than one grape seem to be the way to go.
But I am a big fan of single variety wines (it’s just about all I make) because of their purity and also something hard to explain - it’s the feeling I get when I track a Syrah (eg.) over time; you learn it in its youth and can easily recognize it but as it ages, you find out what lies beneath that varietal character. I think this may have something to do with site expression in the wine. And I think that something, whatever it is, isn’t as accessible in blends.
Obviously, a pretty nebulous premise but one I keep finding over time.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Best, Jim

Gonna have to agree with Jim here. I see both sides of the fence and make both single variety wines and blends, including a wine called Verbiage Blanc, which is a roussanne-heavy blend.

I think the challenge is to make single variety wines that are distinctive and ‘true’ to their varietal character. One of the wonderful things about blends, for instance, is that you can ‘augment’ or ‘make up for’ things that the single variety you are working with does not deliver. For instance, roussanne oftentimes lacks acidity - it’s not uncommon to put together a blend that includes components for this purpose.

That said, a 2005 Tablas Roussanne I recently had was absolutely drop dead gorgeous, especially on day 2.

As far as Zaca Mesa goes, I just think their wines need time. I recently had an 09, and it was a beautiful example of the variety. The L’Avion, to me, needs a few years in bottle to shed some of it’s ‘oaky’ characteristics; they also do a lower level estate roussanne bottling that is good, but lacks some of the ‘pizazz’ that the L’Avion brings to the table.

The other ‘challenging’ thing about this variety is that, to me, these should always be consumed at cellar to room temperature but not really chilled. I find this is something that is difficult for most consumers to understand, but as this is really a variety that is known for texture, the colder it is, the less apparent that texture is. The potential downfall? At room temperature, white wines are ‘naked’ - if they are out of balance in any way - too much oak, too much alcohol, too much sweetness, etc - you will know it immediately.

As always, YMMV . . .


A 2007 Zaca Mesa two weeks ago was DOA but that appeared to be a cork failure. One of two more of those yet so hopefully the others will shine. I liked the wine young but held the last few to see how they aged.


Reach out to the winery - they should make good . . .


And Brian and Jim,

Will either of you be at the Rhone Rangers tasting this weekend in SF? I know Qupe, Tablas, Zaca, Stolpman and myself will be there - and my hope is that most if not all of us will be pouring both current vintage (in my case) and perhaps library vintage versions for your enjoyment :slight_smile:


Jim, I didn’t intend my comment to be a slight against varietal wines in general. I just feel that in the case of TCV they do a great job with their blends and I feel that those blends have aged better than their other wines.

From you, Jim, that’s quite a serious commendation. Sounds like I have to try one at some point :wink:

Another to consider, perhaps. From a few weeks ago.

"2011 DeLille Cellars Doyenne Red Mountain Roussanne

A small top note of bananas mixed with honeydew and apple pie. Tasty and crisp, a slight nutty finish off of quite clean saline apple. Later, a sweetish lemon. Has a sneaky deliciousness, Jenise commented this is one of her favourites of this variety out of Washington."

Larry–July? One of the bottles I’m most looking forward to opening that day is my lone 2006 Beaucastel VV, can hardly wait to see where it is now.


I will not be at Rhone Rangers.
But I’ll see you at Woodshed Rhones on Thursday.
Best, Jim