by Nikki Lincoln
The sold out Outside Lands is quickly approaching and the Bay Area is buzzing with talk of which bands everyone is excited to see. I, on the other hand, have been talking up all of the great wines that are going to be at Wine Lands, the designated wine area of the festival.
It’s always interesting to admit this but I actually have not been to Outside Lands before, despite hearing great things from all of my friends. Knowing my interest in wine, they’ve always been quick to bring up the amazing wine vendors that the festival provides every year. Since I have the opportunity to attend this year, I decided to finally check out the list and let all of you know which wines I’m looking forward to the most. Hopefully, I can hear the music from the wine tent!
If you can only try a handful of wines next weekend, here are the winemakers (in alphabetical order) that I’ve had a chance to try and highly recommend:
As you may recall, Broc Cellars was one of my top picks from the Rosé the Rhone Way event back in June. I had really enjoyed their 50% Cinsault / 50% Counoise Rosé blend. I’ve also had the chance to try some of their more unique varietals – the 2011 Cassia Grenache and 2011 Luna Matta Mourvedre. All three wines were spectacular and will also give Outside Lands attendees a good choice of beverage depending on the weather. I personally love a good red when the weather is chilly (as Outside Lands has been known to be in past years) and Grenache is go-to for me as it’s my favorite varietal. However, I love a crisp Rosé when the weather is hot. The day I tasted the Broc Cellars Rosé was particularly sweltering and if (fingers crossed) San Francisco is lucky enough to get some higher temperatures for the festival – I know what wine I’m going to get to cool me down.
Forlorn Hope specializes in wines that are unknown and uncommon. Like many of the other winemakers here, I first tasted Forlorn Hope’s wine at the Seven Percent Solution – an event celebrating varietals that make up only 7% of the grapes grown in California. Forlorn Hope quickly caught my attention for having several Portuguese varietals and had even named one blend “Que Saudade” – a Portuguese phrase meaning longing or missing of something you have lost. Saudade has been referred to as one of the most beautiful words in a foreign language. Since Portuguese is my second language, I was impressed to see the word used here and the wine was equally as impressive. I went back several times for additional tastes of Que Saudade. I also have had a couple of opportunities to taste Forlorn Hope’s “Trou Grit” Trousseau Gris – a lovely “orange” wine with a very complex and unique flavor. I don’t know if winemaker, Matthew Rorick, is bringing these particular wines to Outside Lands but I’m sure whatever he is pouring will be unique and delicious.
Although J. Lohr has been at a few Rhone Rangers events, I couldn’t find anything in my tasting notes. I even missed a chance to stop into the winery during my recent weeks of travel (also the reason there haven’t been many posts from me lately) so I’d been aching to try some of their wines. Luckily for me, I was out at a bar that was pouring the J. Lohr Sauvignon Blanc. I was happy to see a name that I recognized and even happier to finally get to try some of their wines. The Sauvignon Blanc did not disappoint and left me really excited to try more of the portfolio. I’m happy to know that it won’t be too much longer until I get that chance.
The Scholium Project was another winery at Seven Percent Solution and per the alphabetical arrangement of the event, was stationed next to William and I while we were pouring for Two Shepherds. Ironically, I didn’t get to take notes on their wines as I was always working when I had their wine in my glass but I remember enjoying the wine extensively. My friend was particularly fond of the 2011 Cinsault. The Scholium Project also brought temporary tattoos to the event and I volunteered my forearm to represent their cause. I’m hoping they have tattoos again next weekend as I’m a big fan of them – on that note, I’ve been trying to get William to make some tattoos for Two Shepherds as well.
Wind Gap, like many of the other producers I’ve listed, was another Seven Percent Winery. My favorite Wind Gap wine from the event was, unsurprisingly, one of my favorite varietals – Mourvedre. With cranberry undertones and a beautiful, ruby color, the wine was quite delectable. The Trousseau Gris was another great, unique wine with a crisp and aromatic flavor that will be refreshing if Outside Lands happens to be a warm day. The style of Wind Gap’s wines is much lighter and more delicate and reminded me a bit more of William’s wine making style, specifically with his Grenache, which was nice to see in another wine maker.
Wines of Portugal holds a special place in my heart. Their Portuguese wine tasting was actually the first event I went to as a representative of Simple Hedonisms. I was so nervous to be wine tasting in a more official capacity but I quickly fell into step and felt so comfortable asking questions about the wines I was trying. As a Portuguese speaker, I also relished the opportunity to practice speaking although I stumbled a bit trying to describe certain flavors in my limited Portuguese vocabulary.
Since the event, I’ve continued to see Portuguese wines all over the place and they are quickly taking up space in my wine collection. If you’re a white drinker, be sure to try an Alvarinho or Loureiro. For reds, I would recommend a Touriga Nacional. Portuguese varietals aren’t always easy to find so I recommend trying a few while you have the chance!
These winemakers (or distributors in the case of Wines of Portugal) are only a small selection of who will be at Wine Lands this year. The full list of wineries can be found on the Outside Lands website in addition to band schedules and other food vendors. All of these winemakers also represent something I often seek out at different wine tastings – unique varietals and flavors that aren’t commonly found. After writing this article, I am even more excited that these producers will be at such a mainstream event and I know I will be dragging my friends to Wine Lands so they can try all of the amazing, unique wines I’ve written about here. I’m also looking forward to trying the offerings from the wine makers I’m less familiar with – does anyone have any recommendations for me?