MERLOT IS BACK! Q&A WITH FOXEN OWNER BILLY WATHEN

fullsizeoutput_225Q:  When was the last time Foxen did a straight Merlot?

A:  Before the 2016, it must have been the 2006 – also from Vogelzang vineyard in Happy Canyon AVA.  Before that, 2001 from Carhartt vineyard.  We sourced from Carhartt for quite a few years – when their vineyard was mostly Merlot and a little bit of Syrah.  Before they started their own label and they were just farmers.

fullsizeoutput_22aQ:  How do you feel about it as a varietal?

A:  You look at Merlot as it sits on the Right Bank in Bordeaux – it’s such an important grape.  Especially for the wines of Pomerol and Saint Emilion.  Over here, I think the movie Sideways did it some harm, but it’s a great workhorse of a varietal.  It’s versatile because it has softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc.  Not necessarily as thin-skinned as the Pinots but much softer than the other Bordeaux varietals.  Merlot also brings that nice, plummy fruit together with whatever we’re blending it with.  We use it for five different wines at Foxen – Range 30 West with Cab Franc, Pajarito with Petit Verdot, Volpino and Volpino Rosato with Sangiovese and now the 2016 100% Merlot.  

fullsizeoutput_244Q:  Why 2016?

A:  It was an abundant year.  We knew from the get go that we were going to be able to do it so we treated it differently.  We used newer barrels to add some spice – the same French Taransaud barrels that the Vogelzang Cab goes into.

fullsizeoutput_227Q:  Pairing ideas?

A:  Again, it’s versatile.  Cheeses, meats, vegetables.  It doesn’t have a lot of acidity so I wouldn’t pair it with tomato elements necessarily.  It’s all over meat and sauces.  Crispy chorizo tacos with some nice sharp cheddar and shredded cabbage.

fullsizeoutput_245Q:  Any Sideways anecdotes?  Were you at the filming?

A:  Yeah, it was awesome!  They filmed the scene at the Shack in about 45 minutes.  Paul Giamatti is very into wine.  He was renting a place here with his family while they were filming so I would run into him occasionally and talk baseball.  The crew hung out quite a bit since they were filming elsewhere in the area.  When it came out, we saw it in Buellton and everyone in the theater had been around the filming so it was like the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  It was nuts.

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2018 HARVEST RECAP with winemaker David Whitehair

Q:  How did 2018 harvest differ from previous harvests?

A:  The main difference as far as the growing season was concerned was that the ’16-’17 season had 23.75 inches of rain compared with 9.85 inches for ’17-’18.  Because of that, yields were a little bit lower, but the quality was exceptional.  Another big difference was the low-and-slow, later part of the growing season.  We had a nice mild beginning of spring, without any high winds, and then there was a heat spike toward the end of July that brought things back up to par.  The friendliness of this weather pattern was especially evident in Happy Canyon with the Bordeaux varietals.  Typically, when we pick these varietals in their ripe and mature state, they need help with their pH levels.  Because of that, you’re usually having to add acidity to the wine to bring it back into balance.  This year, we didn’t have to add anything.  As the wine’s custodian, the less you have to manipulate anything the better.

Q:  What were the biggest challenges?

A:  The biggest challenge this year was being patient with the longer harvest.  In the previous four or five harvests, we’ve had a narrow window to get everything done.  This year was like a huge engine revving up to go nowhere in a hurry.  So, stepping back and letting everything happen on a normal timeline was actually a bit difficult.  The upside was that we got to spend SO much time with all the ferments.  For instance, what I’m emptying right now – the Cabernet Franc from the Tinaquaic Bajita vineyard – was able to ferment for a whole month before going to barrel.  Also, with the cooler weather in October, we had no stuck ferments – everything went nice and smooth.  For a winemaker, that’s a huge sigh of relief.

Q:  How are the estate vineyards doing?

A:  The Tinaquaic Alta vineyard is doing surprisingly well.  We’re getting two and a half tons to the acre of dry-farmed Chardonnay!  I’m convinced there’s an aquifer under it somewhere – either that or it’s a miracle.  Tinaquaic Bajita is also doing great thanks to a new well.  During the heat spell, we were able to give that little bit of water to the vines to keep wilting to a minimum.  We’re starting in with some watering now as well to get a head start on next year’s crop.  Should have even bigger buds and thicker canes because of it.  As soon as we get some rain, we’re going to disc and plant nitrogen-fixing cover crops in both vineyards to keep things as sustainable as possible.

Q:  Final thoughts on the 2018 harvest?

A:  I think 2018 is going to be known across the board as being one of the most spectacular harvests that California – especially the Central Coast – has seen in a long time.  

California Wine Month

Pink is Back!!! 2017 Rosé of Mourvèdre Santa Ynez Valley

In conjunction with this weekend’s Vintners’ Festival Weekend, we are releasing our 2017 Rosé of Mourvèdre.
As we’ve done in the past, Foxen will donate $1 dollar for every bottle sold from now until the end of May to breast cancer research. This includes all web store purchases, in addition to tasting room sales. So, this is a great time to stock up on our 2017 Rosé of Mourvèdre for the summer!
After May we will make a
donation from these proceeds to the
Santa Barbara’s Breast Cancer Resource Center.
Drink PINK. Drink FOXEN.
2017 Rosé of Mourvèdre
Retail: $26.00
Anchor & Compass Club: $22.10
Master & Commander Club: $20.80

 

Fall in Love with FOXEN with our February Wine Bundle

For the month of February we will be offering a discounted wine bundle that is sure to please.

The bundle will include:
2014 Syrah, Tinaquaic Vineyard
93 Points – Wine Enthusiast
91-93 Points – Wine Advocate
2014 Cuvée Jeanne Marie, Williamson-Doré Vineyard
92 Points – California Grapevine
91 Points – Vinous
2014 Pajarito, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
Due to the extremely small production
 this is not submitted for review
 
Regular Retail Value: $136.00
Bundle Price: $122.00
Anchor & Compass Club Price: $103.70
Master & Commander Club Price: $97.60
Click Here to Purchase

Our Fe Ciega Vineyard Pinot Noir is Back!

New Release!
2014 Pinot Noir, Fe Ciega Vineyard

You can taste this wine in our tasting room, as it is now available on our Pinot Flight, offered at 7600 Foxen Canyon Road.

14 Feciega Main
Retail: $66.00
Anchor & Compass Club: $56.10
Master & Commander Club: $52.80
Reviews:
95 Points – Tasting Panel Magazine 
“Crisp and racy with juicy Burgundian style; elegant and lifted with smooth, fresh raspberry and tangy cherry fruit; illustrates why we love this variety; lively and long, seductive and pure.”
94 Points – Wine Advocate, Jeb Dunnuck 
“Spice box, sappy herbs, bright acidity, rose petal, black cherry and currant notes all emerge from the 2014 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard. This medium-bodied, supple, layered and charming effort has fine tannin, bright acidity and a good finish, all suggesting it will evolve nicely. Note, this spent 17 months in 40% new French oak.”
92 Points – Wine Enthusiast 
“Reserved on the nose, this bottling by Billy Wathen and Dick Dore from their friend Rick Longoria’s vineyard offers cranberry, fennel, lavender and a touch of smoke on the nose. It’s delicate in its approach, with tightly woven strawberry, red plum and cranberry fruit lifted by dried sagebrush and more of that wildfire smoke.”
91 Points – Burghound 
“This is also quite deeply pitched yet attractively cool with its admirably pure aromas of plum, violet and dark cherry where an interesting note of dried tangerine peel can be found. The energetic medium weight flavors possess a highly sophisticated mouth feel thanks primarily to the notably fine-grained tannins shaping the delicious, dusty and complex finale. This should benefit from a few years of bottle age yet it’s not so tightly wound that it couldn’t be enjoyed on the younger side if that’s your preference.”

Click to Purchase

Northern California Wildfire Relief Fund

Fires

Dear Friends,
As you are aware, Northern California wine country has been hit by devastating wildfires that have led to terrible loss of life and property. The events are simply heartbreaking, and the situation is still unfolding.
We wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that the Santa Barbara wine community wants to do its part. Yesterday, The Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation  set up a fund in partnership with Direct Relief by creating a fundraising site (see below link) specifically benefitting Northern California fire relief.
Many of you already know that Foxen and our Santa Barbara wine community have been  enthusiastic supporters of Direct Relief for nearly twenty years. Headquartered in Goleta, Direct Relief is a humanitarian aid organization, active in all 50 states and more than 80 countries–with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies. You may already know that Direct Relief was among some of the first on the ground bringing desperately needed medical supplies to those regions affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, in addition to earthquakes and other natural disasters around the world.
If you haven’t already done so, we ask that you consider a donation to Direct Relief by visiting: https://www.directrelief.org/sbvintners.
This has been a difficult year for so many people everywhere. Keeping others in our hearts truly does make a difference, and we are grateful for your support.
 
Sincerely,
 
 Bill, Becky, Dick and Jenny

13 Pinot SRH Thumb

Now until the end of the year, Foxen will also be donating  $1.00 for every bottle of 2013 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills sold.

Retail: $38.00
Anchor & Compass Club Price: $32.30
Master & Commander Club Price: $30.40

Reviews:
91 Points – Tasting Panel Magazine
90 Points – Wine Enthusiast
90 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate

Click Here to Purchase 

foxen 7200 Starlane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Our first ever Starlane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 
Now Available
     The Starlane Vineyard sits on a series of mesas (also known as “potreros” in Spanish) against the backdrop of the San Raphael Mountains, on the eastern edge of the Happy Canyon AVA. We source Cabernet Sauvignon from Block 28 at Starlane, which sits high on the property, and has a 30-35% slope with southerly exposure.
Retail: $50.00
Anchor & Compass Club: $42.50
Master & Commander: $40.00
Starlanewine pairing

2012 Cabernet Franc Food and Wine Pairing

Our 2012 Cabernet Franc was recently mentioned in an article in the Santa Barbara Independent. FOXEN has been producing a Cabernet Franc since the early 90’s and believe it is a very versatile wine that can be paired with many different types of cuisine. The recipe below for Lamb Chops with Moroccan BBQ sauce was mentioned in Sunset magazine as a great pairing for Cabernet Franc and we couldn’t agree more.
Billy’s Notes:
“Our estate Cabernet Franc took on a new profile in 2012, when our new “Bajita” Tinaquaic Vineyard block, adjacent to the new winery, became part of the wine. This added two newer clones of Cabernet Franc and a smidgeon of Petit Verdot (5%). These additional variables added a few new dimensions and complexity to our finished wine. The wine aged 22 months in François Frères Bordeaux barrels and was bottled without fining or filtration. The aromas are typical of our Tinaquaic Cabernet Franc but perhaps more fruit-driven with the addition of the new clones and Petit Verdot. It displays aromas of blueberries, lilac, cumin, and graphite with tart red raspberry and earthy beet flavors, all of which are framed by good acidity and luscious tannins. Drinking window: Now- 2024″ 
Retail: $48
Anchor & Compass Club: $40.80
Master & Commander: $38.40
Click Here to Purchase

Lamb Chops with Moroccan BBQ Sauce

    
INGREDIENTS
  • 8 lamb loin chops (each about 1 in. thick and 4 oz.), fat trimmed
  • 1 cup lightly packed rinsed fresh mint leaves
  •  1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions (white and pale green parts)
  • 3 tablespoons parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 peeled clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • Moroccan BBQ sauce (recipe below)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Make a mint chutney marinade: In a blender, whirl 1 cup lightly packed rinsed fresh mint leaves, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup chopped green onions (white and pale green parts), 3 tablespoons parsley leaves, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 peeled clove garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne until smooth. Makes about 1 cup.
  2. Rinse lamb chops; pat dry. Place chops in a bowl with about 1/4 cup mint chutney; turn to coat. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.
  3. Lift lamb chops from bowl (discard any chutney in bowl) and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Place on a grill over a bed of medium-hot coals or medium heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 3 to 4 seconds); close lid on gas grill. Cook chops, turning once, until browned on both sides but still pink in the center (cut to test), 9 to 12 minutes total.
  4. Place chops on plates and drizzle with Moroccan barbecue sauce; offer remaining chutney and sauce alongside.

Moroccan BBQ Sauce

INGREDIENTS
  • 3/4 cup honey,
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs,
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice,
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar,
  • 1/4 cup ketchup,
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce,
  • 1 clove garlic,
  • 1 whole star anise,
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 in. long, broken into pieces),
  • 3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger, ground cardamom, whole cloves, hot chile flakes, and salt.
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a 2- to 3-quart pan, all the ingredients together
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Click the links below to find more recipes to pair with the 2012 Cabernet Franc 

 Beef Enchiladas

enchiladas

 Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

lasagna

2012 John Sebastiano Food and Wine Pairing

jseb food and wine pairing

FOXEN presents our weekly food and wine pairing

Our 2012 John Sebastiano Pinot Noir is a wonderful Sta. Rita Hills Pinot. We discovered this recipe below of duck breast with a pomegranate glaze from Martha Stewart and believe it will pair wonderfully with a glass of this particular Pinot Noir.

 93 points – Wine Enthusiast

92 points – Vinous

“The 2012 Pinot Noir John Sebastiano Vineyard is one of the more intense, explosive wines in the Foxen range. Dark red and black stone fruits, cloves, menthol, tar and licorice blossom as this large-scaled, voluptuous Pinot shows off its personality. The finish is rich, broad and creamy.” -Antonio Galloni

Retail: $48

Anchor & Compass Club: $40.80

Master & Commander: $38.40

Duck Breast with Pomegranate Glaze

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 3 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground lavender
  • Three 1- pound duck breast halves, trimmed of excess fat and scored
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pomegranate Glaze
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a small bowl, mix together fennel, salt, lavender, and coriander. Place duck breasts, skin up, in a large dish. Sprinkle evenly with the spice mixture. Flip breasts over and place the zest, brandy, and thyme evenly on the flesh; let marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the duck breasts, skin side down, in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Cook until the fat is rendered and the skin is crisp and thin, about 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer breasts to oven and cook until pink in the center, about 4 minutes. Let duck rest for 2 minutes before slicing. Divide duck evenly among 4 serving plates and spoon over pomegranate glaze.

Pomegranate Glaze

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 pomegranates
  • 3/4 cup homemade or canned low sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
DIRECTIONS
  1. Place the orange juice, brandy, and honey in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer, add vinegar, and cook for 2 minutes.
  2.  Meanwhile, cut pomegranates in half. Hold pomegranate halves over a large bowl and beat each one with the back of a wooden spoon to release seeds and juices. Place 2/3 pomegranate seeds and any accumulated juices, thyme, and chicken stock in the jar of a blender; blend for 10 seconds. Strain pomegranate mixture through a fine sieve into saucepan.
  3. Return glaze to a simmer. Stir in butter. Spoon over duck and garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds.
Click the links below to find more recipes to pair with the 2012 John Sebastiano Pinot Noir 
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