Sans Liege and Groundwork Wines
By Kerry Winslow
Curt Schalchlin, winemaker and owner of the Sans Liege and Groundwork label, is making some of the most interesting hand crafted wines in the state and are often compared to Sine Qua Non and Alban, though they are much, much more affordable! Sans Liege and Groundwork are a tiny one man operation in Santa Barbara County and he does it all, which certainly makes him exceptionally busy, but also seems to guaranty that his personal vision and artisan touch always shines through in his intriguing wines that showcase true Rhone style and vineyard terroir characteristics. Curt’s passion flows in his current line up which showcases his talents and highlights the great vintages that 2009 and 2010 were in the South Central Coast regions. This Spring brings three new Groundwork wines and the Sans Liege Cote du Coast Blanc, and as with all of Schalchlin’s wines, they will sell out fast, so don’t miss out on these wonderful gems! It was very nice to meet the man behind these wines and to see his passion, he is really making his dream come true all by himself and making tasty wines we all can afford!
Groundwork by Sans Liege
2010 Groundwork Grenache Blanc Santa Barbara County.
This young and intense white is beautifully layered and rich with stone fruit and spiciness, in fact it is pure Grenache Blanc, though it has the weight and feel of a top quality Roussanne, very much like a nice Chateauneuf-du-Pape blank in style. This vibrant and lively wine has loads of peach, apple and nectarine with apricot pit and smoky mineral essence. With lush texture and a rich palate this white is a steal at this price, but it should even get better over the course of a year and it has plenty of zesty acidity and citrus to keep it all together.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2010 Groundwork Rose Santa Barbara County.
This full and fruity Rose is mostly Grenache, but has a dose of Mourvedre as well, Curt Schalchlin let slip he added a whole barrel of red to the blend! This added a fullness and a vivid racy color as well, making for a serious and sexy Rose that is wildly fruit filled and fun! The nose is watermelon, crushed berries and citrus leading to a sweet and savory palate of red citrus, melon, cherry cola, strawberry and pepper spices. This fresh and fruity Rose is a summer treat and a must have for any picnics or BBQ’s!
($14 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2009 Groundwork Grenache Santa Barbara County.
Sans Liege’s Curt Schalchlin has nailed it again with this Cotes du Rhone style Grenache under his Groundwork label making a truly Southern Rhone style gem that offers great value and has plenty of fruit and earthy complexities on offer! It starts with dusty red fruit, grenadine, violets and chalky mineral notes with a fine balance of fruit intensity and spice with a tangy peppery edge. The red raspberry, strawberry and cheery fruit coats the palate with hints of crush rocks, fennel, white pepper, truffle and sweet liqueur. Viva Grenache and Bravo Curt for making a value rich Grenache that kicks butt!
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2009 Sans Liege Cotes du Coast White Blend, Santa Barbara County.
This very rich Hermitage Blanc style white is a very serious contender for best California white for your buck this spring with lovely full flavors, perfume and lavish texture. The nose has honeysuckle, jasmine and peach jam before a mouth filling palate of apricot, citrus, apple butter, peach and liquid minerals. This wine has good vigor and acidity, but gains a lush creaminess with air with a hint of butterscotch. A tropical note and lingering stone fruit hang on the long finish on this Rhone style white that is a tasty blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. This top notch wine always sells out fast for good reason, so don’t wait get it while you can.
($24 Est.) 92-94 Points, grapelive
Available at www.sfwtc.com