Serious Summer Sippers: 2013 Vallin Blanc and Rosé

Posted by Ian McFadden

Serious Summer Sippers
2013 Vallin Blanc and Rosé
Northern Rhône, by way of California

What do you get when you take a couple of Master Sommeliers and well-established winemakers with a love of the Rhône and give them some grapes on great land in Santa Barbara?

The long answer is a shockingly bright and finessed expression of the Northern Rhône varietals from one of the most exciting projects in California.

The short answer is Vallin.

The minds behind Vallin form nothing short of a dream team: Eric Railsback and Brian McClintic of Les Marchands, Justin Willett of Tyler Winery, and Dustin Wilson of Eleven Madison Park. Dustin, whom you may recognize along with Brian from their big moment in Somm, has one of the great palates in the market. That he has put in his time tasting in France, New York, and California shows. These wines are expressive, sophisticated, honest—and downright delicious.

Let's start with the rosé. The 2013 is 100% Syrah, a drastic change from last year's all-Grenache rendition. And though the first iteration was excellent, this bottling takes it to a whole new level. This is pure, elegant and cracklingly crisp rosé that delivers hugely in the refreshment department.

As for the white, well, let's just say that this white restored my hope in New World takes on Rhône whites. There's nothing fatiguing here. Viognier's florality and the waxy yellow fruit from Marsanne are all bound up in a wonderfully restrained and mineral high-acid frame. It's eminently drinkable.

This is a wine project of unabashedly high aspirations.Vallin is also the name of the road where famed Côte Rotie producer Jamet sits, and the winemakers take their namesake seriously.

This is only Vallin's second year in production, and the improvement from year one to two is impressive—especially given how much we liked it the first time around. That first year, this was eye-opening, an example of a game changing new guard in California. Now that they're more established, this is just really fantastic wine.

I'm all for the New California renaissance, but land out there is admittedly expensive, and prices can be daunting for these "start-up" wines. But given the high quality coming out of this small operation, Vallin represents truly great value. I recommend you stock up. There's still the second half of the summer to come, and no better wines to get you through.

To order, reply to or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine and Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits