Tasting Two Whimsical Whites by Briar Rose Winery

By Tyler Worth, Columnist

If you read last week’s Temecula Tuesday post, you may recognized the name Briar Rose. I try not to repeat the same winery too many times in my reviews but I was so taken with the Viognier I wrote about last week that I decided to visit the winery.

I can say without even a shadow of a doubt that as a whole, this is the most impressive winery I have found in the Temecula Valley (and believe me, there are some pretty amazing competitors.) During my visit, I had the opportunity to try a total of eleven wines. Each and every one of them deserves a place in the spotlight, but there is absolutely no way that I would be able to cover them all without writing a post that would rival the length of War and Peace.

So to keep things interesting and short at the same time, I’m going to break my tasting up into three separate posts (one white, one red, and one exclusively for their Cabernet Sauvignons.) I don’t want to give you an overdose of Briar Rose, so instead of doing these posts three weeks in a row, I’m going to be spreading them out between my other Temecula Tuesday articles, so if you like what you’re reading so far, be sure to keep checking back for more on this incredible winery.

So let’s get down to business. I already did the best job I possibly could describing this “fairy tale” winery in last week’s post, so if you missed it, check it out here before reading on. Today’s wines are some of the strangest, most creative viticultural experiments I have ever encountered. Both of them break the rules in ways that most winemaker’s have never even thought of, and I can say with a good degree of certainty that you’ll never find anything quite like them anywhere else.

Wine #1: Briar Rose Winery 2009 Temecula Valley Talking Frog Hefe-N-Vine Lager

Our first wine is so unique that I am not even entirely sure what to call it. Since it comes from a winery and this is a wine review site, I’ll treat it as such, but this one could probably just as easily be classified by its suds as a beer. What Les Linkogle, the winemaker, has done with this strange creation is taken the juice from the Viognier I was so impressed with last Tuesday, and instead of fermenting it as one traditionally would to create a wine, added the yeast used in brewing hefeweizen beer to carry out the fermentation. This unusual yeast selection not only allows the grape juice to ferment into a wine, but also to obtain the smooth, frothy, sudsy goodness of an unfiltered wheat beer. The result is a strange hybrid somewhere between the taste and aroma of a Viognier, the presentation of a sparkling wine, and the thick head and body of a hefeweizen.

This wine is almost exactly like the Viognier that I reviewed last week on the nose, but there is a unique wheat and barley-like quality to it. In addition to the intense fragrance and aromatic complexity of the regular Viognier, there is a creaminess, an additional heartiness, something that is deep and inviting.

On the palate this wine opens sweet and lush. It’s nearly dessert sweet, although I could see it working quite nicely as an aperitif wine with a cheese plate. The flavor profile is nearly the same as the traditional Viognier, but there is an explosion of thick wheaty foam, exactly like a hefeweizen. It’s delicate, floral, and intense, and it’s got amazing complexity. I think that the fascinating, sudsy refreshment that this wine brings to the table is really something unique, and an absolute must try expereince. Without question, a wine…

Worth Buying. 90 points.

Wine #2: Briar Rose 2009 Temecula Valley Fume Rosé

Briar Rose is a husband and wife run operation, and during my tasting I had the opportunity to meet both of them. While I was doing my research, just a couple steps across the tasting room, Les sat discussing his wines with some friends. When it came time to present our next wine, he gave it the best introduction I could ever imagine, when he cracked a smile and said to them, “you’ll never guess what this is.”

He was right, and I think that anyone trying this wine would be hard pressed to guess what went into making it. It’s a dry rosé made from Sauvignon Blanc. How can this be? Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape, so what makes it pink? The secret behind this wine is putting the Sauvignon Blanc into barrels that were previously used to age Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the pigments and elements of the wine previously in the barrels stay soaked into the wood, and when the white wine is added to the barrels, all of the remaining characteristics of the Cabernet Sauvignon are pulled out into the solution, creating a rosé.

The aroma is very sweet and ripe with strong, almost citrus flower-toned notes that leap from the glass. There is also a lot of tropical fruit, a bit of some subtle minerality, honey, and a faint berry component. It’s almost a little peppery and there is a good amount of spiciness and blue stone added to the mix.

It opens delicately, with a very faint sweet sensation despite the fact that it is actually a dry table wine. It’s lush and there is a very crisp sea-toned minerality running throughout. The minerals give way to honey, rose petal, ripe mango, and the crisp acidity of gooseberry preserves. This wine is very nice overall. It has a medium body, great smoothness, and a good firm structure. This is not one of those light, watery Sauvignon Blancs that you so often find in California, and it is certainly not Grandma’s rosé. This is a serious wine, well made, extremely unique, and an absolutely enjoyable experience that is well…

Worth Buying. 90 points.

Tyler Worth
Founder & Executive Editor

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