A decade ago, a group of us – co-workers and friends from my Dallas days – traveled to the Pacific Northwest for the wedding of two in the group. Apart from the bride and groom, who hailed from Portland and Seattle, respectively, I believe it was the first time any of us had spent any real time in that part of the US.
As we sat in the outdoor patio of a Willamette Valley vineyard, sipping pinot noir in low-humidity, 70-degree sunshine, we Dallasites began to plot the commune we would establish in order to avoid heading back to the Texas heat.
Sean and Juliana McBride actually followed through on that fantasy. For them, it was ditching New York for Napa Valley, where they founded their winery, Crosby Roamann, in 2010.
Juliana came to Houston last year as part of a marketing tour and I learned about their story – and sampled some wines – over a meal at B&B Butchers restaurant. Crosby Roamann is a small family operation. “Our hands touch every part of the process,” she says, adding that the winery makes less than 1,000 cases in total.
Here are a few notes about the wines she poured. Prices are those listed on the winery’s website:
— 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, St. Helena, Napa Valley: Smells of hay, tastes of lemon, slightly floral, but with a full-bodied “mouthfeel.”* The grapes are fermented in a combination of once-used, twice-used, and neutral French oak barrels and aged eight months in oak. ($28)
— 2013 Chardonnay, Carneros, Napa Valley: The first taste has a sugary bite that gives way to both melon and butter, giving it a rich finish at the end. These grapes were fermented in neutral French and American barrels and aged 20 months in 20 percent new oak. ($34)
— 2012, Merlot, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley: This wine was rich, full, and (dried) fruity; I tasted ripe plums and cherries, ripe but not overly sweet. The grapes were aged 30 months in a combination of French and American oak barrels, half of which were new. “I’m on a campaign for merlot,” Juliana told me. “It’s time; it needs to come back.” ($50)
— 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa Valley: This was a wine for steak, cocoa and blueberry, with a spicy top note. Full-bodied and rich. The grapes were aged 30 months in all French oak barrels, of which 80 percent were new. ($75)
*Mouthfeel: the sensation created by food or drink in the mouth