While the wonderful wines of Beauregard Vineyards go well with just about anything, they do seem to go particularly well with a sparkling ocean view. This past Monday, I had the opportunity to take part in a Beauregard Wine Club Sail aboard the stunning 70-foot Chardonnay II sailing yacht. This event (taking place monthly through October) brings together a diverse crowd of wine club members and their guests for an unforgettable sunset sail out of the Santa Cruz Harbor. The views are spectacular and they're accompanied by some equally delightful wine selections and appetizers.
We departed the yacht harbor at 6:30 pm - a boat full of happy faces looking forward to an evening of conversation and wine. Of course, we were all particularly interested in the cases of wine being loaded onto the magnificent Chardonnay II.
While the afternoon was overcast and cool, the waters on the Monterey Bay were remarkably calm. As we cruised along, we had the opportunity to enjoy the sights of Santa Cruz landmarks and wildlife. We caught glimpses of sea otters, sea lions, pelicans, harbor seals and even some porpoises as we cruised along. The Chardonnay II took a leisurely route to the Santa Cruz Wharf before turning around. Along the way, we admired the postcard-perfect views of Seabright Beach, the iconic Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Main Beach and West Cliff. Overall, the views were nothing short of magical.
As to the highlight of the sail, Beauregard's wines did not disappoint. On the list for the evening were:
· 2009 Chardonnay Bald Mountain - Bright green apple highlights with floral notes on the nose give way to pineapple, cream & honeydew. A finish of lingering oak, cinnamon, crisp and clean. The grapes hail from the Bald Mountain vineyard. Planted in 1900, this vineyard boasts rare sandy soils, imparting a striking minerality to the wines.
· 2012 Saignee of Pinot Noir - This vibrant salmon-colored wine is the perfect pick for warm summer evenings. The saline essence on the palate of the wine imparted from the coastal fog as well as the redwood duff on the nose, make it an incredibly site expressive wine. The wine offers aromas of strawberry, raspberry, minerals and floral tones. Flavors of watermelon, honey and stone fruits are the highlights.
· 2010 Syrah Nelson - This robust wine offers a sophisticated palette with hints of peppercorn, anise and oak. This is an intensely rich and aromatic wine.
As we sipped our spectacular wines (accompanied by cheese, bread and other appetizers), the conversation flowed, new friends were made and connections were discovered. It truly is a small world...and wine always seems to make it even more intimate. The soft sounds of music and laughter floated on the ocean breeze as we watched the sun go down and nestled back into the harbor.
Pinot Gris (also known as Pinot Grigio in Italy) is a white grape that is thought to be a genetic mutation of Pinot noir. Most winemakers today treat red and white grape varietals very differently during the winemaking process. Typically, red grapes are left on the skins during fermentation, while there is no skin contact when making white wines. However, sometimes a winemaker will choose to let macerated white grapes ferment on the skins. The result of this process is known as an orange wine. While no oranges are used to make orange wines, they often possess citrus characteristics, but more importantly, the skin contact allows for absorption of tannins. The result is a wine with the flavor profile of a white wine, but the texture of a red wine.
The origin of orange wines dates back at least 5,000 years, when winemakers often made little distinction between white and red grapes, with evidence of orange wine found in amphora from the area that is now Amenia and the republic of Georgia. Orange wine later became popular in the northeastern par of Italy and Slovenia, where winemakers frequently left white grapes on the skins from around 1300 until as late as 1960, when modern winemaking techniques and practices displaced many traditional methods of winemaking. However, orange wines have recently made a comeback thanks to vintners who have combined old traditions with modern winemaking techniques, producing high-quality orange wines.
Here at Beauregard vineyard, we are pleased to announce the release of our second vintage of orange wine made from Pinot gris from the Regan Vineyard. We have also made a white wine Pinot gris as well, with grapes from the same vineyard. Located in the Corallitos area of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Regan Vineyards is situated atop a hilly knoll with loamy soil, and receives plenty cool breezes off the Monterey Bay. The soil and marine influences lend a crisp, refreshing acidity to these new wines, which are perfect for the summer. Our orange wine had 21 days of skin contact, and is reminiscent of (insert tasting notes here), with a slight astringency on the finish because of the tannins. This wine is great with barbecued chicken or sausages!
Here's a few reasons why we like orange wine, and why you should too:
- Because of the tannins that result from the skin contact, orange wines have more body and structure than a normal white wine
- The flavors are complex, salient and unusual.
- Orange wines combine old traditions with new innovations
- Though made to drink upon release, orange wines often age more gracefully than your average white wine.
- Opening a bottle of orange wine is a good way to impress your wine-loving friends.
- A chilled bottle of orange wine is refreshing and tastes great!
Stop by our tasting room this weekend and try our Pinot Gris and Pinot Gris 'Orange Wine' for yourself!
A glass of Orange wine makes Stefano VERY happy!
Pinot Gris "Orange Wine" on the bottling line.
Nora showing her dad Ryan Beauregard proper labeling techniques for the Pinot Gris (white wine) here in Bonny Doon!