Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wine As An Art Form - CrossHatch Wines

The back label of CrossHatch Wines gives a description of crosshatching - an artistic technique that utilizes closely spaced, intersecting lines to add shading or depth to a drawing. Santa Barbara's Carr Winery has named their new line of blends after this technique. Winemaker Ryan Carr thinks of their blending process as the winemaking version of crosshatching. The different grape varieties are harvested on the same day and fermented together, adding shape and depth, bringing out aromas and flavors not there before.

2014 CrossHatch White Blend, Santa Ynez Valley

This is a really great white wine consisting of 70% Viognier and 30% Marsanne, the alcohol is quite restrained at only 14% abv and 154 cases were made. Retail is just $17, a steal for a wine showing this kind of quality.

Viognier grapes grown at Quail Valley Vineyard come from "the heart of Santa Ynez," while the Marsanne grapes were picked in the warm east end of the Santa Ynez Valley, in Camp Four Vineyard. The grapes were co-fermented and aged six months in stainless steel tanks.

The straw colored wine has a gorgeous nose of tropical fruit and melon rind. There a suggestion of the sea in it, too. The salinity hinted at by the nose is realized on the palate - the savory aspect works with the fruitiness, not against it. Great, razor sharp acidity and a finish of lime zest make for an invigorating mouthfeel. Bring on some crab legs. Oysters. Scallops.

2012 CrossHatch Rhône Blend, Santa Ynez Valley

Sixty percent Grenache is a good start in my book and 40% Syrah is an even better second chapter. Carr only made 225 cases of this Rhône blend and it sells for $25. The grapes - both varieties - were grown in the Santa Ynez Valley's Quail Ridge Vineyard. The grapes were co-fermented with 15% whole clusters, then aged in French oak for 18 months. Twenty percent of that oak was new. Alcohol hits 14% abv.

This Rhône blend shows a medium dark hue in the glass and emits perfumed black cherry alongside earthy notes. There is a bit of funk to it, with an extreme minerality. Dark shadings on the cherry fruit mark the palate, with a rough-hewn oak spice. Nice acidity gives it a refreshing mouthfeel and the finish carries a bit of tartness, for quite a while.

2012 CrossHatch Bordeaux Blend, Santa Ynez Valley

Call this one a Bordeaux blend because there is not enough Merlot - 60% - to name it varietally. The remainder is Cabernet Franc, which plays almost as big a role in the aromas and flavors as the Merlot. 250 cases of this $28 wine were produced, with a 14% abv number. Camp Four Vineyard is where both varieties were grown, and whole cluster pressing again accounts for 15% of the grapes. Repeated also is the co-fermentation and 18 month French oak aging.

The inky wine lets no light through and smells equally dense. Black fruit, earth and a whiff of smoke play over an undercurrent of cinnamon spice. It is a very pleasantly fragrant wine. Things go just as well on the sip, with massive dark berries and plums  backed up by minerality, acidity and great tannic structure. Pair it with a juicy steak, pair it with potatoes roasted just short of burnt or pair it with leg of lamb. You can also just sip it and get along just fine.

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