Wine of the Week: 2019 Raft Wines Counoise, Central Coast, CA
A community of ducks is called a raft. A raft is also a pleasant place to float away your cares on a warm summer day. But for now, we’ll focus on a different raft… this one is a small winery in California that you definitely want to know more about. Introducing Raft Wines’ Counoise.
As I mentioned last week (see my Viognier review), Raft Wines was founded in 2016 by Jennifer Reichardt. Jennifer grew up surrounded by the Northern California wine and restaurant industries. Eventually, she stepped into the leadership role of her family’s thriving duck farming business.
It seemed like the natural progression–when you have some of the best duck ever, you want a fabulous wine to go with it. So, Jennifer learned to make wine. Her hands-on education took her around the winemaking world and brought her right back to Sonoma County. Here she continues to grow the family business, and hand-craft her wines using fruit sourced from organic growers in top-rated regions of California.
Getting to know Counoise
I know many of you are fans of Rhône wines, as well as many other wines made from the classic three: Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre. Some of you probably also know that those are only a few of the 13 official blending grapes in the Rhône’s famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape. But how many of you are familiar with the grape Counoise?
Counoise (pronounced coon-whahz) is a thin-skinned, juicy red grape variety from the southern Rhône Valley. It’s known for its bright, tart, peppery characteristics, and is most commonly used as a blending grape–especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Because of its high juice to skin ratio, wines made from this grape are often more similar in appearance to a deeply colored rosé than to a typical red wine.
Although at home in the southern Rhône, today, the majority of Counoise is grown in the US, and the majority of that in California. Love Ranch in the Central Coast region, where Raft Wines sources this fruit, has many similarities to the southern Rhône, so Counoise is a natural there. Raft Wines Counoise has developed such a following that, in 2019, they doubled their production of this delightful wine.
My review of the 2019 Raft Wines Counoise
As is common with single varietal wines made from this grape, the Raft Wines Counoise looks very much like a deeply colored rosé or cranberry juice. Like all Raft wines, this one is unfined and unfiltered, so it has a faint haze to it – by no means a bad thing.
The aromas of red plum and fresh berries were accompanied by a whiff of spice. On the palate, the Raft Wines Counoise reminded me of tangy-astringent rhubarb, bright cherry, and a bit of fresh tomato with a generous grind of fresh black pepper. There are modest tannins and a hint of Mediterranean herbs followed by a lingering rosewater and black pepper finish.
Raft Wines Counoise is refreshing and infinitely food-friendly. I recommend enjoying this wine at a slightly cooler than room temperature (but not cold). I refrigerated it overnight then left on the counter for about an hour before opening. I enjoyed this wine with a flavorful pork picadillo (recipe in progress). I was also considering how much I’d love it with the ground duck burger Jennifer shared recently on Instagram (@duckdaughterjj).
Even better, with summer coming, why not order a bottle of Raft Wines Counoise and serve it with our recipe for Dijon Mustard Glazed Pork Loin with Summer Peach Ratatouille.
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