The Pastoral Blanc blend requires longer bottle aging longer than my other whites to demonstrate its complexity and balance. It was released in November 2015, as the right balance of aroma, flavor profile, and texture emerged.
The color is light vibrant yellow. The nose is expressive and layered: white peach, apricot, melon, honeysuckle, tropical notes. On the palate, the aroma profile carries over combined with citrus and stone fruits. The finish lingers with weight, spice, food friendly acidity, and a hint of minerality. This is a complex white wine that is enjoyable now, and will reward cellaring.
To fully appreciate this wine’s density, acidity, mouth feel, we encourage it to be served at a proper temperature of 52-56 degrees. It also gains complexity with exposure to oxygen, feel free to decant it, or enjoy over several days.
Pastoral Blanc is our flagship white Rhone blend. The composition will change from vintage to vintage, with Roussanne as the primary variety. The goal is to create a white wine with rich texture and viscosity that combines acidity with weight, depth & mouth feel, layered aroma and flavors. Two Shepherds’ philosophy towards Rhone wines is that often the sum of the parts often exceeds the whole, like a symphony, each playing a key role. This white cuvée demonstrates this admirably.
The Roussanne and Marsanne are very special – this planting at Saralee’s esteemed vineyard, is the only source of these varieties in the Russian River Valley, yielding 3-5 tons per year. The Grenache Blanc, in Caties Corner (named after Saralee’s daughter) is the only acre in the Russian River as well, compared to over 6500 acres of Chardonnay.
The cooler climate and cold foggy nights are more akin to the Northern Rhone than the Southern, and allows longer, gradual ripening that preserves acidity, a key to this blend, designed for years of bottle aging.
Grapes were harvested at various ripeness levels from 21 to 23 brix as we watch closely for proper flavor development, but looked to pick at higher acid levels to give this blend the acidity to go a decade of bottle aging.
Grapes were crushed and fermented as separate lots, with 2-4 hours skin contact prior to pressing. The pressed juice was transferred into neutral French oak barrels, without settling, where it fermented with native yeast. The wine completed malolactic fermentation naturally, and was left on the lees for 5 months, with no additions other than small amounts of SO2. In May 2013, extensive blending trials took place, until the final composition was achieved, then bottled in June of 2013.
Food Pairing Notes
The neutral oak and sur lees aging enhance the natural weight and viscosity of the Marsanne and Roussanne, making Pastoral Blanc an excellent choice to pair with Dungeness crab, shrimp or scallops. This elegant wine will compliment a wide range of foods from seafood, roasted chicken, grilled & root vegetables.