16 Feb Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Fiddlehead Cellars 2016 Estate Fiddlestix Vineyard Grüner Veltliner, Sta. Rita Hills
This past week, I co-hosted a virtual tasting with Kathy Joseph of Fiddlehead Cellars as part of the monthly Forgotten Grapes virtual tastings. I have been a fan of Kathy and her wines for years and always enjoy opportunities to taste them. Kathy, one of the first female winemakers to open her own winery in Santa Barbara County, founded Fiddlehead Cellars in 1989 with a focus to produce Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. But after 33 years, she planted 2 acres of Grüner Veltliner and made her first vintage in 2014. This week we drank the Fiddlehead Cellars 2016 Estate Fiddlestix Vineyard Grüner Veltliner, Sta. Rita Hills, the Please The Palate Wine of the Week.
Kathy has been a fan of Austrian Grüner Veltliners. During harvest lunches with her team, she would often open up different bottles of Grüner Veltliner. Her curiosity was peaked and she planted some as an experiment. She was unsure how the grape would ripen in the cool climate of the Fiddlestix Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills. But one week after the Pinot Noir was ripe, so was the Grüner Veltliner.
In the first year, Kathy tested neutral oak, new oak, and stainless steel to see how the grape would do. And in just that first year she learned that new oak was too much and stainless steel resulted in a more fruit-driven wine. The final outcome is a wine that sees 80% neutral oak and 20% stainless steel. The result is a wine with aromas of citrus, honeydew, ginger, and white pepper with a lovely viscosity and mineral-driven acidity.
Kathy recommends experimenting with food pairing but added that garlic pairs well with this wine. So, I sautéed up some garlic shrimp and enjoyed the rest of the bottle.
The Fiddlehead Cellars 2016 Estate Fiddlestix Vineyard Grüner Veltliner retails for $30. The 2015 Grüner Veltliner is also available for purchase so you can taste two vintages side by side. And Kathy also makes the Fiddlehead Cellars ‘Bebble’ Reserve Grüner Veltliner, Fiddlestix Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills, a barrel select Grüner Veltliner that retails for $42.