The tangent name was conceived after months of laborious consideration. Literally meaning “a departure from the ordinary,” tangent is meant to convey a commitment to white wines other than the mainstream that is Chardonnay. Made to be enjoyed with food, tangent wines are backed with lively acidity and highlight pure varietal fl avors. There are no oak barrels associated with any of the wines, nor is there a need for malo-lactic fermentation. Clean varietal expression is a tangent imperative.
Exotic grapes are not the only defining feature of the tangent line. Roguenant says that compared with what has become standard for California whites, all the tangent wines have lower alcohol levels, higher acidity, greater minerality and more varietal specificity. That means food-friendly wines that have distinct flavor profiles.
Niven's family has been growing grapes in Edna Valley for 35 years and started making wine there in 1977. The Niven family's success with the Baileyana wines, Heimoff says, is the reason he isn't surprised that it's on the cutting edge with tangent. "They've been on the forefront of viticulture and enology in this region at their Paragon Vineyard. They are always going to exceed expectations." The 1,220-acre Paragon Vineyard offered Niven and Blaney plenty of room to experiment.
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A block of newer plantings (16 acres) in the Paragon Vineyard of the Edna Valley on the Central Coast of California is the sole source of fruit for the tangent Viognier. Benefiting from the cold ocean breezes and thick morning fog that burns off to allow bright afternoon sun, Edna Valley has the perfect microclimate for the tangent wine lineup. It is one of the coolest viticultural areas in the world. Fruit here ripens fully without the high sugar content that results in high alcohol levels, retaining its natural acidity. The cool influence of the Pacific only four miles to the left, this vineyard is afforded one of the longest growing seasons in the state. Soils here are a mixture of volcanic, clay loam and rocky marine sediment, offering few nutrients. The temperate climate brings extended hang time, and the soils cause the vines to stress and strain as they grow. These two factors ultimately culminate in fully ripe, concentrated fruit that bursts with flavor.
The fruit for this wine is grown in the famed Paragon Vineyard of the Edna Valley on the Central Coast of California. Planted by winegrower pioneer Jack Niven in the early 1970s, this was one of the first vineyards in the region. The vineyard is now in the capable hands of the second and third Niven generation. They realized the need to keep step with the ever-changing wine marketplace, and have planted a few new varietals in recent years. Viognier is one of them. As the growing season here is lengthened as a result of the temperate climate, and the nearby Pacific Ocean provides a marine influence, Viognier enjoys the same Mediterranean climate as in the Rhône Valley of France. Viognier fits nicely into the tangent line-up, as it is a vibrant white varietal whose pure characteristics stand out nicely without any need of oak influence. Additionally, it is nice to sip on its own, and is also a great match with many foods.
Winemaker Christian Roguenant
tangent wines are made by veteran winemaker Christian Roguenant, who brings more than 20 years of winemaking experience, encompassing many countries and five continents. Born in Burgundy and educated in Dijon, Christian cut his winemaking teeth on Champagne, then California sparkling wine. In this process, grapes are picked at higher acid levels than for traditional wines, and fermented in stainless steel. Oak influence is not generally used, and the finished still wines are fresh and crisp with solid acid structure. These still wines are then blended and bottled with a dosage added to create effervescence. Christian enjoyed the still wines before blending so much that he would set aside enough to bottle and pour at his own table each vintage. When John and Michael approached him about their tangent idea, he was immediately on-board and eager to get started.
If you didn’t know this wine was from California, you’d swear it was from France’s Rhone region..Winemaker Christian Roguenant describes the 2007 tangent Viognier as “a rare example of cool-climate Viognier. It shows off the flavors of the Northern Rhone more than most California Viogniers that tend toward the more lush, tropical side.” “Our second vintage of viognier again exhibits classic cool-climate characteristics, but is not a typical California viognier. It has a vibrant floral nose, and an elegant note of fresh white almond. With intense fruit flavors of peach, apricot and pear, it has a musky quality to it, and a round body. “The wine sports a nice, tight mineral structure with higher acid,”
Aromas: notes of flowers, apricot, peach, pear and white almond.
Fermentation 100% Stainless Steel ferment at 55 degrees for 47 days
Barrel contact: zero
Some on the practices used at Paragon Vineyards
All drip irrigation amounts are based on evapotranspiration so as to deliver the proper amount of water to the vines each week, avoiding over-watering.
Energy Conservation and Efficiency:
In order to reduce time, use of fuel, and compaction of the soil, up to four tasks are performed by tractor equipment in one pass.
Predators are introduced to naturally combat problem pests, like the mealybug destroyer, whenever possible. Use of Category 1 pesticides has been virtually eliminated, and raptor boxes are in place to encourage owls and hawks to hunt for rodent pests.
Sources: Los Angeles Times, Corrie Brown, tangent website, WinetasteTV