Qupe Marsanne 2014
In contrast to the Old World, Qupé focuses on cool climate expressions of Rhône varietals due to a distinctive geographical feature that sets them apart from most other regions of California, as all vineyards are all located in East-West valleys (vs North-South) which function as open windows to the cool Pacific Ocean. The benefit to the vineyards of being along the coast and running East-West is that the 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 Rhone varietals. East-West valleys on the Central Coast that Qupé sources from include Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Los Alamos Valley and Santa Rita Hills/Santa Ynez Valley.
The name "qupé" was chosen to honor the Chumash, the indigenous people of the Golden State's Central Coast and Channel Islands. In Chumash, "qupé" refers to the poppy, a flowering plant traditionally used for food and medicine. In 1903 the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) was officially designated the state flower, and every spring masses of the bright orange blossoms still blanket local hills and back country.
Ranging from cool and foggy in the west to warm and dry in the east, the Santa Ynez Valley is a climatically diverse growing area. The most expansive AVA within the larger Santa Barbara County region, Santa Ynez is also home to a wide variety of soil types and geographical features. The appellation is further divided into four distinct sub-AVAs—Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District and Happy Canyon—each with its own defining characteristics.
A wide selection of grapes is planted here—more than sixty different varieties, and counting. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir dominate in the chilly west, while Zinfandel, Rhône blends, and Bordeaux blends rule the arid east. Syrah is successful at both ends of the valley, with a lean and peppery, Old-World sensibility closer to the coast and lush berry fruit further inland.
One of the star whites of the Rhône Valley and ubiquitous throughout southern France, historically vignerons have favored Marsanne for its hardy and productive vines. It can make a fruity and delicious single varietal wine as well as a serious, full-bodied version with amazing aging potential. The best examples of Marsanne come from the northern Rhone appellations where it is also blended with Roussanne. Sommelier Secret—Some of the oldest Marsanne vines in the entire world exist not in France but in Australia, in the Victoria region. Settlers planted it in the mid to late 1800s, calling it “white Hermitage.”