Sometimes the arrival of a new wine is just destiny.
The RED team recently tasted through a handful of wines from Napa Valley-based Tallulah Vineyards.
We all were quite smitten with the entire portfolio, so it was only natural that this winery was destined for our first Wine of the Week newsletter for Spring.
Mike Drash has been one of my favorite winemakers for many years and I honestly didn’t even know it. In a former life, at a different wine shop, we went purely ga-ga over the LUNA VINEYARDS Sangiovese. I think we probably sold more of that wine than any other retailer on the planet.
Mike sort of landed into the winemaking gig almost by accident following a trip to Key West where he fell in love with food… and wine. A few years later, this Mississippian took a leap of faith and transplanted to California and the rest is wine history. A stint at Deloach led to other wineries like J and Far Niente, followed by Luna and Astrata. In 2009, Mike and his wife bought a small Napa winery called Tallulah from Copain winemaker John Raytec.
Here’s where destiny sets the stage for Mike’s leading role. His daughter’s name is Tallulah and a distant relative is the one and only Tallulah Bankhead, a famous and provocative stage, film and TV star of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
As both Tallulahs were born prior to Mike’s purchase of the Tallulah label, how else can you classify the unfolding of events than by saying they were simply meant to be?
The name Tallulah means “leaping water” and “fruitful.” Both meanings certainly describe the wines we are suggesting today!
TALLULAH SAUVIGNON BLANC ($19.99) –
This is one of the three most intriguing sauvignon blancs that I have tasted in the past five years. Simply stunning and drastically different from so many of the predictable acidic, grapefruit and grass-laden New Zealand versions.
Pure, elegant and delicious. This white is aged for about three months in French oak barrels, of which only 30% are new. This imparts a richness and texture that enhances the subtle spiciness, classic white peach, crisp tropical melon and subtle baked apple crispness. Truly a breathtaking Spring white wine. BUY THREE BOTTLES.
TALLULAH “COMO” MARSANNE ($29.99) –
Wow. This is beyond description for an American wine. Honestly, the first wine that comes close to the taste and style of Como is made from the white viognier grape grown in France’s northern Rhone Valley region called Condrieu. Como has all the plushness and delicate florals of a $100 Condrieu, at a fraction of the price. Exotic baked apples, sweet pears, honey drizzled almonds and rich, ripe fresh tropical fruits only begin to describe all of the aromatic and delicious flavors in this wine. Mike has coaxed all the proper elements out of these grapes to near perfection. To add to the near mystic qualities of this wine, he’s also managed to keep the alcohol content in balance and supplement the lingering finish with an almost sweet tea spice only befitting a true Southern winemaker. Downright brilliant in my humble opinion. The grapes are from the Stagecoach vineyards on Atlas Peak in Napa. The grapes from this vineyard command exceptionally high prices and the fact that this wine is under $30 is beyond honorable. Named after Mike’s hometown of Como, MS, about 45 miles south of Memphis, this wine, is worthy of a hometown heroes welcome. And for the Nashville connection, Como is also where Johnny Cash grew up… THIS WINE IS A MUST TRY! HIGHLY LIMITED.
Trust me when I say that these wines merit your consideration. If you don’t mind, I would prefer to leave off a numerical score that only seems to diminish their relevance. Mike’s wines are a fitting tribute to all Tallulahs involved in this story, before and after his purchase of the winery. Thank you for allowing the divergent paths to align with the purchase of this winery that was destined to be owned by gentleman.