The Similarities Between Successful Marriages and Delicious Wine
By Penny S. Adams, winemaker and viticulturist for Wedding Oak Winery
June is traditionally the most popular month to get married. As the winemaker at a winery named for the 400-year-old Wedding Oak Tree where people have gathered for countless weddings over the centuries, this month caused me to reflect on the nature of marital unions. The most successful marriages bring out the best characteristics of both people as individuals, while also establishing a completely new couple’s persona that is only possible through the blending of those two people’s finest traits.
The same is true with wine. (Yes, it is true that as a winemaker almost everything makes me think of a corollary in the wine world, but stick with me. . . wine and marriage do have similarities.) There are many excellent wines that are made with a singular grape variety. Think of Oregon Pinot Noir. And there are sundry stellar wines that are always made as blends. Think of Bordeaux wines made with a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other varieties.
I’ve typically approached winemaking with an old-world approach, taking inspiration from classic wines like Spanish Rioja-styles. I blend complimentary grapes to make wines that are stylistically similar to how they are made in other areas of the world. For instance, I make our Terre Blanc with the same grape blends as you’ll find in Rhône white wines — Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier. This is a wonderful marriage of the elegant qualities of all three grapes. As the dominant partner, Marsanne, gives the blend its rich color, opulent pear aromas, and silky body. Roussanne contributes finesse to the blend with more depth, more richness, and intense aromatics. Viognier brings full-bodied peach, tangerine and honeysuckle scents and flavors to the union. The result of the marriage is a wine with complex herbal, nutty, and stone-fruit characters that aren’t fully present in any of the three individual wines.
While I’ve always made some single variety wines, like our award winning Viognier, this vintage we had such stellar quantities and quality of grapes, I decided to make single variety Roussanne and Marsanne wines too. Now you have the opportunity to taste all three wines on their own, and as a wedded wine.
The Roussanne grape can be persnickety and difficult to grow in great quantities, but the 2016 harvest from the Narra Vineyard in the Texas High Plains was exceptional. The grapes produced a wine with a beautiful golden straw color, powerful scents of fresh flowers, peaches, spice tea, roasted cashews and black pepper. This opulent wine has layers of honey and pear flavors. It’s lively acidity and a beautiful lingering finish make it a great accompaniment to Texas shellfish, grilled pork tenderloin, veal, and spicy Asian dishes. Our 2016 Roussanne won a gold medal at the prestigious 34th annual Lone Star International Wine Competition.
This wine is as bright as a sunny summer day in Texas. The grapes are gown on a steep hillside with deep limestone and clay soils in our estate High Valley Vineyard in San Saba County. Typically, all of Marsanne grapes from this block go into our Terre Blanc wine, but in 2016, I separated a portion of the grapes to play with. I’m incredibly happy that I did. This wine has a rich, mineral texture that will become more complex with time. It bursts with spicy aromatics, and is lush with flavors of Meyer lemon and roasted almonds, with a creamy vanilla finish. It’s a great wine to serve with rich seafood dishes, and grilled chicken or pork tenderloin.
While each of those single grapes make fantastic wines on their own, they make a wholly different and equally gorgeous Rhône-style blend made with 67% Marsanne, 21% Roussanne and 12 % Viognier. The grapes for this wine were harvested over a three-week period, with Roussanne coming into the cellar two weeks after the Viognier harvest, and the Marsanne harvested in between. Terre Blanc has a rich golden color, and opens with soft aromatics of honeycomb and chamomile. This lively blend has toasted almond, honeydew melon and pear flavors, and a crisp mineral-like mouthfeel. This perky white wine pairs nicely with chicken, pork and especially with Texas seafood on the grill.
Give these two newly released, single variety white wines a try this summer. Then, see what the Roussanne and Marsanne taste like married together in our Terre Blanc. We think each of these wines will conjure the same romance as a wedding day.
If you are planning a wedding, we also have a full suite of bridal themed wines, each made with a blend of grapes. They’re a great addition to any celebration of love.