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Ehlers Estate 2018 Sylviane Rosé

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A Horse of a Different Color

When the Ehlers Estate 2018 Sylviane Rosé was released last Spring, I was super stoked. The 2017 vintage was my #1 favorite wine last year. Everyone I knew that tried this vintage swooned over it. It was a 100% Cabernet Franc rosé that really knocked it out of the park. So with the 2018 vintage released, I was ordering my first case, no problem, with more to follow I was sure.

Ehlers Estate
This was my last bottle of the 2017 vintage

Now I knew that there was a new winemaker at Ehlers. After all, I did run a Q&A with her last fall. (You can read my interview here) But it never crossed my mind to ask her if she was going to seriously change it up with new styles any of the wines that have been part of the Ehlers Estate signature for the past nine years.

I called one of my contacts at the winery and placed my order for a case of the 2018 rosé. But after looking at the website, I had a big question. Noticing that last year it was 100% Cabernet Franc and this year it is a blend of different blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot… Ehlers Estate 2018

…just how different was it?

In short, it is an entirely new and different wine with the same name. The Ehlers Estate 2018 Sylviane Rosé is winemaker Laura Díaz Muñoz’s take on what she believes rosé should be from an estate such as Ehlers. Part of me was very, very sad. But the rest of me said, “Hey, wake up! This is what you love about wine. It changes. It is an expression of terrior with a signature from the winemaker. Yeah, she completely changed it up. Ehlers makes great wine, give it a go.” So I said, “send me a case. If I am shipping wine across the country, I’m not shipping two bottles to ‘try’.”

Ehlers Estate 2018 Sylviane Rosé St. Helena, Napa Valley

The order arrived, and as I unpacked the box, I was struck by the intense red color. It made me think rosado more than rosé. Yes, these terms are the same except one is French and the other Spanish. But these terms can also represent a different winemaking style. In my experience, Spanish rosado tends to be fuller-bodied, more texture, more red fruit on the palate, and a deeper pink to light red color. Hmmm, I ponder. What is in store for me in these bottles?

But now it was time to let it rest before I have my first taste. Wine does not like to be jostled, and it does not like swings in temperature. So after its journey across the country, I let it rest for 2 weeks.

Times Up, Time to drink.

The day that the notification from my calendar went off, I was chomping at the bit to get a bottle open. This first bottle was just for Gary and me. I was so excited. Since we cool our rosés to 48ºF, it was ready to drink and still warm enough to share the aromas wafting from the glass.

Wait; what?

This wine was light-years different than last year – an entirely different style of rosé. Gary was downright bummed. I was confused. Different, I knew, but this different, I was not prepared. I thought, “Oh crap, what am I going to do with the eleven other bottles.” As I sat with the wine, I was reminded that my contact at Ehlers said she had a similar reaction with her first bottle. And that reaction? This is a huge departure from 2017 and we were all mourning what we loved in the 2017 vintage.

The Tasting Notes

The nose is big and full of fruit, including strawberry, raspberry, and melon.  On the palate, Gary said it was a power punch of cranberry juice. I was more red cherry, cranberry, and a hint of citrus. It is dry and juicy. The acidity is tempered and slow to gather steam.

Embrace the New

With each of the next couple of bottles, I began to appreciate it for was it is. I have only five bottles left and can honestly say that I am genuinely enjoying each bottle more and more. I look forward to sharing it with friends and family. After a long day, I may even enjoy it all by my lonesome. Did the wine continue to evolve over the past couple of months or did I? Whichever it is, I am no longer worried about what will happen to the remaining five bottles. I am going to drink every last one and enjoy this big, juicy, intense, and fruitful wine.

What about Gary?

This style of wine is not a match for Gary’s wine profile, and that is ok. (More for me!) Interestingly enough, Gary and our neighbor Natalie have what I thought was an identical wine profile. But I guess I was wrong because I shared a bottle with her and really enjoyed it as well. Her comment… “not my usual style but it’s delicious.”Ehlers Estate 2018

Ehlers Estate 2018 Sylviane Rosé St. Helena, Napa Valley

The composition of this wine is 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Cabernet Franc, 13% Merlot. It can be purchased directly from the winery.

If you are ever in Napa Valley, you will want to make an appointment to stop and do a tasting at Ehlers Estate.


That is all for now.

Cheers,

Rick

Buy “Wine understands me and never asks questions”

 


 

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