Plaisance Ranch 2014 Carménère

A Frenchman’s American Dream

Way down Water Gap Road, past the creek and around a bend, you’ll pull into Plaisance Ranch. Looking for a winery, as the ranch dog yaps at your feet, you’ll wonder if you’ve stumbled into a cattle ranch instead.

And yes, you have. Joe Ginet is a successful farmer and cattle rancher. But he’s also an award-winning winemaker with one heckuva story. As the third Joe Ginet in his family, he’s fond of saying “it’s taken three generations of ‘Joseph Ginets’ to make one adventurous Frenchman’s American Dream come true.”

Joe’s great-grandfather founded the ranch in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley after moving from France hoping to set up his own vineyard. Unfortunately, through a series of sad events and the Great Depression, the land and the grapes were lost.

Decades later, this generation’s Joe was able to buy back the land and start a cattle ranch and farm. Falling in love with wine in the 1970s, Joe went to France in search of his family’s history and was able to reconnect with long lost relatives still producing wine today. The inspiration struck – import plants from the family vineyards in the Rhône Valley village of Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte (population: 884). The rest is history!

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Plaisance Ranch, Williams, Oregon
2014 Carménère

Known as “The Lost Grape of Bordeaux”, Carménère very nearly went extinct in 1867 when a Phylloxera plague wiped out nearly all the vineyards in Europe. In the recovery, grapegrowers focused on hearty vines that could be grown easily.

That’s not Carménère. Known as a finicky plant with low yields, it was largely abandoned by the French. Little did they know, however, that immigrant winemakers in the 1850s had transplanted Carménère to Chile.

Shielded by the Andes Mountains, Carménère thrived in Chile. But it thrived anonymously, as the Chilean Carménère was confused with Merlot. It wasn’t until 1998, when Chilean DNA studies confirmed that “Merlot Peumal” was really Carménère.

The Plaisance Ranch Carménère is a deep ruby red and full bodied. With hints of roasted cayenne and violets bursting with dark purple fruit, it’ll pair well with smoked, grilled, or roasted beef (perhaps from the cattle ranch?) as well as pork and lamb.

A Cellar 503 selection in September 2017, Back to school: Unusual Varietals Applegate Valley | Carménère

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