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April 2018

Satellite Wine Club, April 2018


  1. Mourat - Objet Viticole Non Identifié Rosé 2017, Val de Loire, FR

Hobo Wine Co. - Folk Machine Rosé of Gamay 2017, Arroyo Seco, CA

Lo-Fi Wine Co - Rosé of Cabernet Franc, Santa Barbara, CA 

Winestronauts, 

This is a special month. Our first month full of spring. Watch the skies go from grey to blue, let the days grow long, the flowers bloom and the Jacarandas turn blue. April is full of life in Santa Barbara, and this month we’ll be exploring wines that reflect that liveliness. 

Rosé is the perfect vessel for reflecting on the vivacity of spring. The first to be bottled and released each year, rosé is not only essential to a winery’s cashflow, but to its identity and its connection to the mouth of the consumer. Rosé is simple, but it is not easy to make, per se. In fact, there is an ocean of bad rosé out there. Rosé shows all of its flaws, and all of its beauty, right on the cuff. There is no hiding in a glass of rosé! A quick turn-around from vine to bottle limits any maneuvering a winery might do to hide a bad harvest or some naughty fruit. This month we show off three rosé’s ripe for the drinking, confident in their honesty. Perfect in every way.

WAIT. Three? Three Bottles of wine in April? Is this some sick April fools joke? NO, winestronaut, hush my dearest. This month I saw an opportunity and I went for it… for you. Rosé is fun, it’s never going to be the priciest wine, and it’s certainly not going to last forever. For you, this month, this special time of year, 3 bottles of wine! 

A quick note on rosé before we get going. Rosé is made from red grapes that spend little-to-no time macerating with the skins. There are two main methods: Direct to press, taking whole clusters direct from the vineyard and pressing them immediately (all of the wines herein are made direct). The other is Saignée, where the wines are pressed and left with some or all of the skins to take up the desired amount of color. In a sense, the rosé winemaking process is essentially the same as a white wine, just using black grapes (and sometimes pink, if you’re really lucky… and you are!). 

However you like your rosé I believe you’ll love all three of the wines in this month’s selection. All of them are vibrant, intensely fruity, based in a mineral earth, and from extraordinary farms and low intervention wineries. These are fresh as a daisy, full of life, and meant to be enjoyed all spring and summer! So dive in, winestronaut, and enjoy all that tasty springtime sunshine wine!

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  1. Mourat - Objet Viticole Non Identifié Rosé 2017, Val de Loire, FR

Welcome to the Loire Valley, again! Last month we explored the #1 red grape in the Loire, Cab Franc, this month we explore #2 Gamay, and here, #3 Groulleau. What is Grolleau? It’s a distinctly Loire grape varietal with a few interesting mutations! Normally a deep, black grape with high acidity and a penchant to grow voraciously, today we explore it’s most interesting offspring, the Grolleau Gris. This grape essentially is rosé on the vine. A very rare pink grape varietal with hardly 400 hectares planted in the world, it produces elegant, yet densely fruity rosé wines in the hands of a very few skilled Loire wineries. This wine is so rare that J Mourat decided to name it OVNI, the French acronym for Unidentified Viticultural Object! Like a UFO, I think it’s an exceptional fit for our out-of-this world Satellite! 

  1. Mourat is a super classic estate now in its 3rd generation of family winemaking. Founded in 1974 as a full winery, the Mourat family had been wine traders for a century prior. Their vineyards are in the Fiefs Vendéens appellation of France’s extreme west coast. Squished between Nantes at the mouth of the Loire to the north and Bordeaux to the south, this region is known for its gorgeous coastline, multiple volcanic faults, and the resulting mix of exciting soil types including schist and rhyolite soils, ideal for grape growing. They grow completely organically and are judicious, careful farmers in this wet, coastal climate where pesky funguses and rot can become a terrible issue for farmers. 

I look at it this wine and think, ‘damn, it’s hardly there at all’. With a white motif on the label, the cork, and the color of the juice, one could easily be tricked into thinking this is a white wine… all save for when you pop this wine. As I write this I am 18” away from the glass and am still immersed fully in a bouquet of fresh red berry and tropical fruit. It’s not often I can write tasting notes from a foot and a half away, but with OVNI it’s no problem. This wine is deceptive… Its hits the palate softly at first with a hushed tone and delicate feel, but then again it’s power in the cup is insane. It’s a tropicana sunbathing party, with powerful, yet elegant, notes of fresh strawberry (the tart kind) and banana, with pineapple notes emanating through. It’s TuttiFrutti, it’s wildly fresh. It captures a sense of soil too, with a strong mineral presence that permeates the palate. Have you ever seen anything so invisible to the eye yet so powerful to the palate? It’s an incredible force, and not just flavor intensity, the wine has structure … intense acidity, weight in the palate, a mouthfeel, a texture that fills the palate and feels substantial. I find a refreshing vegetal bitterness in it too, making this a terrific wine for pairing with green salads and bitter greens. I love this whole unidentified viticultural object! 


$26 @ Satellite SB


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Hobo Wine Co. - Folk Machine Rosé of Gamay 2017, Arroyo Seco, CA


I was skeptical when my friend Susan pulled this out of her wine bag. A traditional green bottle, a whacky label, a funky name… gamay from Arroyo Seco (But you know how I love Gamay)! All of my instincts were confused until I took a whiff. *Whammy* This wine jumps out of the glass, sharply, with a wonderful fresh nectarine and plum tone, not a frumpy plum, but a very fresh, bright, high acid plum! Ok, maybe it’s a Pluot. 

Hobo Wines is the creation of Kenny Likiprakong, Hobo winemaker in his own right. Kenny started Hobo on a shoestring in 2002. He eschewed owning vineyards, equipment, and literally any creature comforts in general all for the opportunity to work with the best possible fruit he could muster from winegrower friends. He operates out of Santa Rosa, CA where he strives to make wines that are expressive of their places, low manipulation, and distinctly Californian. This 10.4% Alcohol Gamay Rosé is definitive of that approach. 

The wine is grown on very young vineyard in Arroyo Seco, Monterey County, just south of Salinas. The vines were recently grafted to Gamay a few years back and are just starting to produce quality fruit. This cold valley, which pumps in cold pacific air from Monterey Bay and whooshes it back out with warm inland sunshine is an ideal climate for Gamay. This wine is harvested by hand and gets trucked up to Santa Rosa immediately. The three hours from Vineyard to Winery is the only time the juice will see skins before gentle, whole cluster pressing. That low contact is reflected clearly in the incredible light color of this juice. Like the OVNI Grolleau Gris, this wine is deceptive as the light color does not match the profile of intense, lovely day-bright fresh fruit, and really refreshing acidity. At 10.4% alcohol, it’s incredibly drinkable… as in: drink up friend! Profile-wise, it’s all white cherries and the aforementioned pluot notes that I am fascinated by. A kiss of Tangerine oil, or perhaps ripe grapefruit graces the palate here with a refreshing citrus bitter that demands a smile from your puckering cheeks. No malolactic fermentation here, all cool steel barrels to preserve the delicate fruit during fermentation and ageing.

Doesn’t this wine just taste like a sunny summer morning, just before the heat of the day? An ocean splashes at a seaside fruit orchard… That’s what I taste, and it makes me glad. This is real rosé, made for everyday, and obviously, all day. 

Bravo Hobo, your Folk Machine is taking me places.


$26 @ Satellite SB


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Lo-Fi Wine Co - Rosé of Cabernet Franc, Santa Barbara, CA 


I am sitting here bewildered by the fact that Lo-Fi wines have only just now made it into our esteemed wine club. One of my all-time favorite wineries, every bottle of Lo-Fi captures the essence of what I look for in a wine: A winemaker with hands in the soil, the least possible ‘winemaking’, low-to-no sulfites (only enough to keep the wine safe), and a price point that most people can afford to enjoy. Mike Roth, winemaker and beard enthusiast, is committed to all of the above principles. He’s the leading natural winemaker in our wonderful county and is constantly experimenting with ways to push Santa Barbaran fruit to more elegant, expressive heights. His 2017 rosé encompasses all of these good vibes. 

This magic little wine comes from two magic little vineyards. Coquelicot is not exactly a tiny vineyard at 58 acres, it is, however, treated as a small vineyard with extreme attention to the health of the vines using certified organic agriculture and sustainable practices. Mike is also the winemaker at Coquelicot Winery so he knows the possibilities of the wines there as well as he knows the vines. The other half of the Cabernet Franc comes from Mike’s own home vineyard, ‘Clos Mullet’... yes, Mullet (this vineyard is allllllll party). Mullet is as progressive a vineyard as we have in Santa Barbara. Mike planted all of the vines there with their own root stock, ungrafted to give more fruit intensity and truth to the wines, even if disease and pests are a higher risk. Mike works his vineyard hard, selecting the strongest vines and re-plating them as the weak fall off, a process called Selection Massale. 

This wine is amazing. Full Stop. Pressed off of whole clusters at optimum ripeness, the wine is fermented using only native yeasts in large neutral oak barrels. Also aged for four months in neutral french oak, the fruit benefitted from light micro-oxygenation rounding the rough, or sharp edges of the fruit. It also underwent spontaneous malolactic fermentation, which gives it that amazing soft creaminess.  No sulphur was used at pressing, and only 40ppm of sulphur in total for this vintage, a staggeringly low quantity. 

In the palate, look for honesty. There are no additions here, just good, hard working agriculture and natural biology. Tangerine, Fresh strawberry, and fresh cream. On the palate it’s similarly spunky with orange and grapefruit tones backed by a ripe strawberry and cream and a deeply mineral underlayer. I love this wine for its purity, it’s balance. Certainly the most exciting rosé in Santa Barbara County right now, from one of the most exciting wineries. I am so proud to share this with you, winestronaut. One of 2400 bottles is yours. Enjoy “Magic Mike” Roth’s mystical pink elixir! 



$26 @ Satellite SB


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Toast to Spring 


This is April at Satellite. 



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