A fine California white with Texas roots
It’s one of those weeks again — one of those weeks when I come across a very good wine that deserves a column all to itself, thanks to the California’s Truchard family, which has been growing and making wine for some time in the Napa Valley.
I had a delightful visit to their website, which brought back many happy memories that began with meeting Anthony Truchard (the younger) at a wine dinner here in New Hampshire many years ago. It was one of my first experiences meeting with a winemaker and having a chance to talk with him at length about his wines, which he obviously knew intimately, was a real pleasure that I look back on fondly.
The Truchard family wine history is an old one, going back to 1887 when one Jean Marie Truchard emigrated from a town near Lyon, France, with his brother. (My family emigrated from Isere, in the east of France near the Italian border, and, as far as I know, have never achieved winemaking greatness in the United States. But take heart: Even if you never become a virtuoso winemaker, you can always be a virtuoso wine appreciator. Maybe Wendy will let me plant an acre of grapes in the front yard someday.)
The Truchards established a 500-acre vineyard and winery in southeast Texas. Yes, this was the period of phylloxera annihilation in Europe and may have impacted their decision to leave. Alas, their venue did not survive the prohibition era. But Jean Marie’s grandson Tony got the farming bug (not phylloxera, mind you, just the desire to bring forth fruit from the earth).
Along the way, he went to college, medical school, and embarked on a career as a military physician decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps growing grapes and making wine. He purchased an abandoned fruit orchard in Carneros, Calif., as he continued his medical career. It wasn’t considered ideal wine soil, but in the end it worked. He successfully raised Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc Merlot and Riesling and now Roussanne.
The family originally grew grapes that they sold to other winemakers for vinification, but in the late 1980s decided to give it a go themselves and make their own wine from their own grapes. They cover the basic varietals— Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — and the above-mentioned Roussanne.
Anthony Truchard II began his career as an attorney, but then thought better of it (as did our own local winemaker Amy LaBelle), and now is the General Manager for the vineyards.
Lastly, a few words about the Roussanne grape: It was originally a blending grape that can be found in the great wines of the Rhône Valley, the only place in the world that includes white grapes in the blends of the red wines, including those of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
My De Long’s Wine Grape Varietal Table tells me that Roussanne is an aromatic wine, with notes of herbal tea, and that it is one of the many grapes used in Rhône blends. One can find it in France, Australia, the U.S. and Italy. Its life as a single varietal is more recent.
The Truchard 2008 Roussanne is a white wine that sells for $19.99 at the State Liquor Stores. (I have discovered what appears to be an error — gasp — in the state listing. The Roussanne is listed as number 42581, but as a red wine. Be assured that Roussanne is a white grape that makes white wine.) It is lemon with a good dose of brilliant gold in the glass, with the nose of white fruit, of medium intensity with lemon peel, some hints of tea and pear. On the palate it is dry; with medium and well-integrated alcohol at 14.1%, it was a bit warm to begin with but it moderates. The fruit is well defined including green apple, lemon and hints of white pepper, all in a balanced presentation with some herbaceous notes. Medium-plus length finish. 91 points.
There aren’t a lot of bottles of the 2008 left in the state, but I hope that more will be coming along soon.
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at firstname.lastname@example.org.