Non-Viognier Rhone Whites
Viognier (see our Viognier page here) is very popular, but it is not the only fantastic white grape from the Rhone Valley that thrives in the Sierra Foothills. Northern Rhone native Roussanne and Marsanne make wonderful full bodied wines, often of unique textures. However, it is the Southern Rhone varieties, such as Grenache Blanc and Picpoul Blanc that are really starting to shine and come to the fore. All of these do incredibly well in the warm climate of the Sierra Foothills. Picpoul Blanc is a grape high in acidity that produces wonderfully bright wines even in this climate, and its popularity is excitingly on the rise. Watching the evolution of all of these wines here in the Foothills is fascinating! (And yes... there are delicious blends of these grapes, too, which we delve into in another category, Rhone White Blends, coming soon).
FOOTHILLS WINO PANEL SELECTION
BEST OTHER RHONE WHITE
Picpoul Blanc is proving to be the perfect white wine for the Sierra Foothills. With its off-the-charts natural acidity, it is typically used as a blending grape, but the Foothills climate and soils keep the acidity in check just enough to make it a spectacular single varietal. Sierra Vista has recently grafted Picpoul Blanc vines onto 50-year-old, own-rooted Viognier roots, and magic in ensuing. This is quite possibly our favorite white wine in the region. Read more about all of the happenings at this exciting winery with their old vines and new team here.
OTHER FAVORITE FOOTHILLS OTHER RHONE WHITES
Bella Grace has an amazing selection of white wines, from Albariño to Chardonnay to Vermentino to Viognier, but their Grenache Blanc is possibly our favorite of the bunch. (Their red wines are great, too!). Enjoy some in their cave in the Shenandoah Valley or in their tasting room in Sutter Creek.
This one is very hard to find, but we are a sucker for a good Marsanne, and this is a good Marsanne. It is viscous and mouth-coating and loaded with rich stone fruit and has a nice acidic backbone to carry the flavors through the long finish. Marsannes in this style are not for everyone, but if they tickle your fancy like they do ours, seek this one out.
The Casino Mine Ranch Grenache Blanc is a perfect marriage of richness and refreshment. The stone fruit flavors will snuggle you like a cosy blanket while the subtle tartness sends a pleasant shiver down the spine. This hygge wine makes a great winter white for sipping in front of the fire.
Nestled in a wonderful tasting room that extends under a hillside like a cave in the heart of Fair Play, E16 Winery offers a delicious mix of wines from the Foothills and from cooler regions. Of the Foothills wines, the Grenache Blanc is one of our favorites. Made in a very bright style, with apple and citrus notes leading the way, this wine demonstrates why this winery is so hot and on the rise and why you should check in out.
We couldn't choose between Holly's Hill's Grenache Blanc and their Roussanne, so we picked both! These masters of Rhone varieties are at their best with these two. Often these grapes can produce very similar-tasting wines, but not here, as Carrie and Josh Bendick use different processing techniques to produce wines of distinctive styles. The Roussanne is rich and creamy while the Grenache Blanc is a little more sharp and focused. Both are wonderful.
The Iron Hub Roussanne is a new offering from this hot winery with a spectacular tasting room perched atop a bluff on the Steiner Road byway in Amador County. With the beauty and depth of this first attempt, we are very excited to watch the stylistic development of future vintages. Add this one to your tracking list.
This wine changed everything. When Adam Smith took over as winemaker in 2018, he announced his presence with authority and sent shockwaves through the region with a fresh, bright, mouth-puckering Grenache Blanc that was far removed from the Skinner style. The present version has toned down a tad, but it is still a delicious stunner.
We will always tip our caps to any winery brave enough to make a single-varietal Marsanne, and this one from Starfield is particularly delicious. Our tasting notes of over-ripe apples and dried peaches in a slightly oily texture (trust us, it works) are vastly different than the winery's note of citrus and tropical fruit, which just demonstrates why we love Marsanne so much... it is really hard to put your finger on it's descriptors.
Age-worthy deliciousness from a winery that could arguably have our Panel Selection wine in almost every category, including this one. We recommend giving this one 20 years if you want a true delight, but it is plenty good at release.