Lumen Grenache Blanc 2014
Lane has always had a reputation for being the first to call a pick in the vineyard. Even during the 1990's and 2000's, at a time when most of her peers were chasing Parker scores and pushing harvest times ever later, Lane held fast to her winemaking philosophy - scores or no scores. Ironically, her winemaking style has now come back into vogue.
Lane Tanner was one of the first female winemakers in Central California, and the first to dedicate her entire winery to Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. Her knowledge of the Santa Maria Valley dates back to her first vintage in 1981, as oenologist for Firestone, a job that the legendary Andre Tchelistcheff recommended her for. She later made wine for Zaca Mesa and the Hitching Post, and finally under her own label in 1989. Her wines are notable for being low in alcohol and sulfites, a practice that she continues to this day.
Will Henry entered the wine business shortly after college in 1989 and worked at Leeuwin Estate Winery in Western Australia. He then entered wine sales and worked for The Henry Wine Group, his family's wine distribution company, on and off for the following 20 years. In the meantime he became a widely-published journalist and photographer, and also founded the non-profit organization Save The Waves Coalition. His knowledge of sales and marketing is the perfect complement to Lane's winemaking skills. Both Will and Lane make the wines together in Santa Maria, CA.
With a dry and mild climate cooled significantly by moist ocean fog and breezes, Santa Barbara County is a grape-grower’s dream. Part of the larger Central Coast appellation, Santa Barbara is home to Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley. The conditions here provide an opportunity for nearly effortless production of high-quality cool-climate wines. This is also the site of the 2004 film Sideways, which caused Pinot Noir’s popularity to skyrocket and brought new acclaim to the region.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the stars of Santa Barbara, producing wines marked by racy acidity. Crisp Sauvignon Blanc and savory Syrah are also important. The region is home to many young and enthusiastic winemakers eager to experiment with less common varieties including Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Trousseau Gris, Gamay and Cabernet Franc, making it an exciting area to watch.
Producing full-bodied white wines, Grenache blanc can be unctuous and soft or floral and fresh. Some of the finest examples are terroir-driven, age-worthy wines. It is a key ingredient in white Châteauneuf-du-Pape and is a significant variety in Roussillon’s Vins Doux Naturels. For delicious and approachable table whites popular in France, Grenache blanc blends well with other indigenous grapes. But it doesn’t always have to be blended. Single-varietal Grenache blanc wines are becoming more popular in California and can occasionally be found in South Africa. In Spain it plays a significant role in northeastern whites from Priorat, Tarragona, Rioja and Navarra.
In the Glass
Grenache blanc wines have mango, white peach, lime and pear flavors and often smell of sweet honeysuckle and fennel. The wine can be plump and rich with a brioche quality if aged in oak, or leaner with herbal notes if not.
Grenache blanc goes with spicy poultry or fish dishes like Chinese five spice sea bass, Moroccan tagine and satay. It can hold its own against lemon and lime zest, garlic, allspice, fennel and cilantro.
Whites from the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation of the Rhône are often rich, oak-aged blends of Grenache blanc and Roussanne.