Never let it be said that we are not topical here at JancisRobinson.com. This week’s wine was made by the man who was responsible for the official (Korean) Olympic sparkling wine in Seoul in 1988. Mind you, Christian Roguenant must have been a baby at the time. He was born and educated in Burgundy, travelled extensively, did his thing in Korea, ended up in California’s Central Coast working for Deutz and then Beringer before being responsible for the estimable Baileyana winery. His consultancies have included a long stint for Montana in New Zealand and a host of recherché names in California.
Tangent is the appropriately named offshoot of Baileyana, designed to deliver pure, unadorned fruit flavour in zingy-fresh, aromatic white wines with no oak, no malolactic fermentation. Baileyana is a Chardonnay specialist; Tangent produces everything but Chardonnay - Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Albariño and Sauvignon Blanc grown in some of the coolest vineyards in the state - all sensibly stoppered by screwcap with well-designed modern labels. Their first vintage was 2005 and the laudable aim is to make bone dry wines that go particularly well with food.
Wine and food writer Evan Goldstein introduced me to Tangent Pinot Blanc 2006 Arroyo Grande Valley at the exceptionally good Spruce restaurant in San Francisco, where I nobly tried out its food-friendliness. (It went beautifully with the chef’s home-cured charcuterie as well as my fish.) I thought that after last week’s UK-only wine, American visitors deserved a wine that was particularly easy for them to find, but I’m delighted to see that this wine is also imported into the UK by Wallingford Vintners of Leatherhead, a logistics specialist in distributing some smaller-production, top quality American wines. You can buy this delicious Pinot Blanc by the dozen from www.everywine.co.uk.
UK merchants offering something from the Tangent range (though not so far, alas, the Pinot Blanc, which is the only representative I have tasted) include The VineKing and The Wine Circle, both of Surrey, Worth Brothers of Lichfield, Sideways Wine Store in Edinburgh and the broker Private Cellar of Cambridgeshire.
I was most impressed by the purity of this wine's varietal expression. Much of the ‘Pinot Blanc’ growing in California at one time turned out to be the Muscadet grape Melon de Bourgogne but this reminds me much more of its cousin, true Pinot Blanc as it tastes at its best in Alsace or north eastern Italy. This wine looks pale green and it smells pale green – as crisp as the juiciest Granny Smith but with just a little bit of Pinot Blanc honeyed fatness on the palate too. There’s even something lightly spicy about the aroma. The acidity tastes very natural – thanks to those chilly Pacific fogs that cool down the Arroyo Grande Valley – and all in all this is just a mouthful of wonderfully fresh fruit, showing no signs of age whatsoever as it approaches its third year. Alcohol is just 13.5%.