IT’S “WILD WEST WINE” WITH TRENZA AND TANGENT
Name: Trenza & Tangent
Location: Edna Valley, San Luis Obispo County
Owners: The Niven Family
Winemaker: Christian Roguenant
Established: 2009 and 2005
Annual Case Production: 3,500 & 20,000
CWC selections: Trenza Winery 2009 Santa Barbara County Mourvedre-Syrah-Grenache; Tangent Winery 2010 San Luis Obispo Viognier
A Winery With A View
As the day ends in the Edna Valley on California’s Central Coast, a worker in Baileyana Winery’s cellar pauses to admire the sunset: bright streaks of purple, red and yellow fill the sky, highlighting the ancient volcanic cones known as the “Seven Sisters” and the estate Firepeak Vineyard. The view is unhindered for winery workers because an entire side of the production facility is a glass wall.
Such clarity of vision is not limited to this small family winery’s cellar. The descendents of founders Jack and Catharine Niven have wide-angle vision when it comes to pleasing wine consumers. The family began growing grapes in San Luis Obispo’s Edna Valley, just four miles from the Pacific Ocean, in the 1970s. Today, it owns approximately 1,200 acres of vines and recognizes the extraordinary possibilities for cool climate Central Coast winemaking. “We are eager to explore and maximize the potential of our vineyards and so created five different brands,” says V.P. of Sales & Marketing John Niven. “The brands are Trenza, Tangent, Baileyana, Cadre and Zocker. They’re like children with different personalities, all complementing each other.”
Welcome to the “Wild Wine West”
“Each of our brands has a specific purpose. People are all about exploration with wines today, and here in California, we are in what we call the Wild Wine West. We’re more flexible than the Old World.”
Veteran French Winemaker Christian Roguenant, who has produced wine on five continents, agrees. Christian has been with Baileyana since 1998; prior to that, he made wine for 17 years on the Central Coast at Maison Deutz (now Laetitia). “In Europe, it is very unusual to find two or three grape varieties in one district. Here we experiment and are more adventurous, so we make more unusual, distinctive wines. We live dangerously in the world of wine!”
Trenza for Reds
John, his cousin, his father and two cousins manage the five brands and established Trenza specifically for unique red blends, sourced from their Edna Valley estate and elsewhere on the Central Coast. “Today, Christian is working on blends of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. With Trenza, he makes everything from a Spanish red blend to a Southern Rhône wine. As a master blender, he uses his Old World heritage to make our New World wines.”
“Your CWC selection, the ’09 Red Rhône-style blend, is a blend of three wines,” adds Christian. “People are all about exploration today, particularly with red blends. I think this ’09 is spectacular, a real example of 1 + 1 + 1 equaling 4. We assembled the blend about halfway through the wine’s aging, because we wanted those wines to evolve. Blending is an art.
Tangent for Whites
For Tangent, Christian produces food-friendly white wines from the Edna Valley and San Luis Obispo County. “It’s real simple: Tangent is only white wines,” says John. “None see any oak. They’re all about bright fruit and good acidity. You taste what Mother Nature gave us.”
Like its sister brand Trenza, these whites are adventurous too. In addition to standbys like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, Tangent wines include unusual bottlings like Albariño, Pinot Blanc and Viognier, our CWC selection. “For the longest time in California, we just had Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Now, because of the Food Channel and other ways to explore cooking, people are reaching out to explore other whites,” notes Christian. “Viognier is a fascinating wine with wonderful fruit characteristics that vary tremendously according to the site. Like all our Tangent wines, this 2010 Viognier shows a wonderful purity of fruit – you just smell the wine and can tell the grape variety.”
That kind of quality and focus requires true passion. “Our whole team, from my father and uncle to my cousin Michael and our team in the vineyard and winery, is committed to bringing out the best of every site we work with,” says John. “This is the California Wild West, and we are still exploring.” Join the wine adventure with Trenza and Tangent at the vintage schoolhouse where all the five brands are poured, 5828 Orcutt Rd., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, 805.269.8200. Or visit online at www.nivenfamily.wines.com. Get wild with wine out West!