Quivira’s Hugh Chappelle Makes a Rock Star Rosé

Hugh Chappelle had a precocious palate. While just a kid he was an everyday wine drinker, thanks to his German mother who gave him a taste of the finest rieslings.

Chappelle is the winegrower behind our wine-of the-week winner — Quivira, 2015 Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County Rosé at $22.

The Quivira is a striking rosé with lively fruit tempered by great acidity. It has aromas and flavors of watermelon, raspberry, grapefruit and a hint of cranberry. It also has great minerality. This rosé will no doubt turn heads.

“This wine typifies Quivira’s motto: Intentional Wines, Naturally,” Chappelle said. “Specifically, our philosophy with this wine is ‘farmed for rosé, picked for rosé, and intentionally made as a rosé.’ It’s one of the few domestic rosés that purposefully uses 100% estate-grown fruit from the classic, traditional southern French varieties most prized for making rosé.”

When it comes to this bottling, the sum is definitely greater than the parts, Chappelle said.

“Grenache’s juicy flavors provide the base, but the blend also always includes mourvèdre, syrah and counoise,” he said. “2015 was the first vintage where a very small amount of petite sirah was used, simply because we thought it made the final blend better in our blind tastings.”

As for terroir, the climate of Quivira’s Wine Creek Ranch home vineyard is nearly identical to the southern Rhône Valley, Chappelle said. “This makes it ideal to nurture the varieties that many consider are used to make the finest rosé.”

The most challenging part of making rosé is perfecting the final blend, according to Chappelle.

“Blending begins in the vineyard where blocks are surgically picked at the right time,” he said. “In the cellar, we are managing each individual lot throughout the entire winemaking process. For example, for the 2015 rosé, we used over 10 different lots. It’s always a relief to get the final blend into the bottle.”

Despite the challenges, or perhaps because of them, Chappelle said winemaking suits him well.

“Winemaking’s mix of science, creativity and aesthetic expression just seems to be a great fit for my strengths and personality,” he said. “I enjoy combining the rigor of a scientific approach with using my senses, intuition and experience.”

Chappelle, 53, joined Quivira as winegrower in July 2010. His credits include a stint at Lynmar Estate and, before that, Flowers.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Chappelle grew up with more of an appreciation of wine and food than many of his fellow winemakers.

“My mother was not only from Germany, but specifically from the Mosel (Trier),” Chappelle said. “She passed along to me an appreciation of wine, not just for holidays and celebrations but part of daily life.”


Rosé

TOP PICK

Quivira

Quivira, 2015 Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County Rosé, 13.6%, $22. ★★★★

This is a striking rosé with lively fruit tempered by great acidity. It has aromas and flavors of watermelon, raspberry, grapefruit and a hint of cranberry. It also has great minerality. This rosé will no doubt turn heads.

Tasty ALTERNATIVES

Medlock Ames, 2015 Bell Mountain Estate, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County Rosé, 13.9%, $25. ★★★★: This rosé has a lush texture but its crisp acidity keeps it in check. Refreshing notes of citrus and cranberry. Great minerality. It works. Impressive.

Charles & Charles, 2015 Columbia Valley, Washington State Rosé, 12.2%, $12. ★★★1/2: This is an uncomplicated but tasty rosé with notes of cherry, raspberry and mineral. Bright and lively. Finishes crisp.

Bieler Pere et Fils ‘Sabine’ Rosé, Coteaux d’ Aix en Provence, France, 13%, $12. ★★★1/2: An approachable rosé with notes of cherry, peach and mineral. Light and lively. Delicate, but not overly so. A steal for the quality.

Match Book, 2015 Dunnigan Hills Rosé of Tempranillo, 13.9%, $12. ★★★: Aromas and flavors of strawberry, peach and cola. A sweeter version of rosé, with a hint of cream.

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