Bell St. Farm, Los Alamos, California
Jamie at Bell St. Farm is a gem. They also have the tastiest meat loaf sandwich ever in the history of the world. And Katherine had some sandwich I can’t remember but it was good too. Plus, the bread was whoa.
Anyway, in the midst of waiting for our food, Jamie and I took to talking about the nice selection of local wines on their list, with offerings both by the glass and the bottle. Our conversation came around to Martian Ranch & Vineyard wines, made right there in Los Alamos.
By the end of lunch I’d tasted two rose’s, and then a secret bottle of a Martian Ranch experiment–a no sulfur, low intervention Grenache from the 2011 vintage. Michael Roth, Martian Ranch’s wine maker, had just dropped off the Grenache experiment earlier that afternoon for Jamie to try, and he was kind enough to share a glass a piece with both Katherine and I.
By the end of the affair, I left with a bottle of the Martian Ranch 2009 Santa Ynez Grenache to taste later. The 2009 was actually made by the winery’s previous wine maker, Brett Escalera, and shows a different style, I’m told, from the newer (2011 and forward) wines by Michael Roth. Roth has been able to focus on developing wines that celebrate the spirit of the area from which they grow. The No Sulfur Grenache is a Michael Roth experiment though, and I count myself lucky to have tasted it.
As if Jamie hadn’t already been generous enough, it turned out too that I missed meeting Michael Roth by mere moments. We apparently passed each other in the doorway of Bell St. Farm. He left just as I was walking in. Perhaps the opportunity will represent itself.
Following is a wine review comic of Martian Ranch’s 2009 Santa Ynez Grenache, and their Low Intervention Grenache experiment as well.
click on comic to enlarge
Martian Ranch 2011 No Sulfur Grenache Experiment
The No Sulfur Grenache offers a fresh red cherry, light funk opening, with light cola notes showing alongside the lemoncella and lavender elements. The wine is lively in the mouth, showing as both drying and juicy, but with the tannin beating out the acidity slightly in the overall balance. This bottle had light stem bitterness that showed primarily in the medium-long finish. Fun wine! Katherine very much enjoyed it as well.
Martian Ranch 2009 Santa Ynez Grenache
The 2009 Grenache from Martian Ranch offers a clean, well-balanced, spicy and drying varietal presentation. The wine offers a foundation of red berries, alongside spice, pepper, and surprising smoke elements. The alcohol comes in here at 14%, with a balance of medium acidity and medium tannin showing with a medium finish.
The style here would be distinct from the more recent Martian Ranch wines that Michael Roth has made from 2011 forward.
Martian Ranch also bottles Grenache blanc, and a Grenache rose’. I’m curious about both, but particularly the Grenache blanc. I knew in advance that Whit, of Brunellos Have More Fun, carries Martian Ranch wines made by Michael Roth at the shop she buys for in L.A. After tasting their No Sulfur Grenache I contacted her online to hear quickly what she thought of the rest of the portfolio–she said Roth’s wines are solid throughout. She and I have an overlapping palate in regards to the style that Roth would be producing, so I look forward to tasting more.
Thank you to Jamie for your excellent food, good conversation, and generosity in wine.
Thank you to Whitney Adams for telling me quickly about the rest of the Martian Ranch portfolio.
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