Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Refugio Ranch Ineseño 2009, Santa Ynez Valley

Here’s a nice way to expand your ability to recognize grapes in a blend.  When you find a blend on a wine list with no explanation of which grapes are used in making it, order the wine and try to figure it out.  I wasn’t familiar with the Refugio Ranch Ineseño when I ordered it.  It’s a white wine from the Santa Ynez Valley selling for $10 by the glass - that’s all the wine list offered.

I know there’s a lot of Sauvignon Blanc grown in the Santa Ynez Valley, so I thought that might be a good starting point.  I eliminated that grape right away, though, due to a lack of grassy and tropical aromas and flavors.

Chardonnay?  It’s possible, but the fruitiness takes a back seat to salinity.  Hmm.  Roussanne?  Maybe, but there’s a lot of fruit in there, too.  Roussanne/Chardonnay?  I don’t feel it.  A creamy mouthfeel... Viognier?

The Refugio Ranch Ineseño has a green tint in the glass and offers a savory nose of minerals, melons and spice.  Some green notes waft in and out.  The palate shows a nice salinity, almost like a Vermentino.  Cantaloupe and a buttery note add complexity.  The acidity is very nice, despite the creamy consistency.  It hits the New England clam chowder just right, and also plays well with the bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich.

Ineseño is a blend of Santa Ynez Valley Roussanne and Viognier.  It’s aged on the lees for 15 months in 20% French oak barrels of different types.

The Refugio Ranch - once cattle land - now features vineyards dominated by Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.  They also grow Roussanne, Petite Sirah, Semillon, Sangiovese, Grenache and Malvasia Bianca.  The ranch is owned by the Gleason family, who employ winemaker Ryan Deovlet.  The vineyards are in the eastern part of the Santa Ynez Valley, but the Refugio Ranch tasting room is at the corner of Grand Avenue and Highway 154 in Los Olivos.

The meaning of Ineseño?  It is a dialect once spoken by the Chumash Indians who lived along the Santa Ynez River.

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