Ryan Chartrand

We’ve got a newcomer in town. A brand new winery that could teach us all a lesson in diversifying our interests. This winery came from traditional roots dating back from 1973 when most original vine plantings in Edna Valley occurred. The mystery winery? Tangent, Baileyana’s brand new sister company, which was established May 1 of last year.

So what makes it so special? Well for starters, the fact that it only concentrates on producing white wines. This makes tangent unique in the fact that it is the first winery in the entire state to only specialize in whites. But that’s not where the idea ends. The meaning of the name tangent means “A departure from the ordinary,” according to John Niven, vice president of sales and marketing for both wineries.

So what kinds of wines does this company have to offer? Well, tangent encompasses traditional Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, with unique to the area Albarino grapes and a special blend called Ecclestone. The Ecclestone includes a blend of Viognier, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat Canelli and Albarino. Nearly all of the wines are estate grown, meaning they only come from the vineyards belonging to the winery. The Albarino is from Spain and is considered there to be the premier white wine. It is grown primarily in the Northwest of Spain. Here in California, it is still an experimental varietal and lacks acreage. What is happening next year? Tangent is planning on planting 50 acres of this Albarino grape, making tangent the largest producer in California.

The look of tangent includes a sleek white and silver label and a silver foil screw cap. Yes, this is a new innovative high end wine featuring a screw cap. The aim? To make this wine convenient and approachable at all times and places. In my opinion, I found it extremely accessible and easy to serve. One step, from the refrigerator to the glass. Another perk, unlike some white wines that require enjoying it alone without food due to its amble supply of tannins (bitterness in wine) or high alcohol content (running legs around the rim), tangent seems to have the perfect balance of good acid structure and enjoyable fruit tones. Sitting down with friends to enjoy a light pasta, the Sauvignon Blanc was one of the most enjoyable white wines I’ve ever paired with food.

But don’t start suggesting it to your parents down in San Diego. Tangent is not readily available in grocery stores around the state (yet is sold nationally). It is more of a restaurant wine, available now in local restaurants. Though, you may be able to buy tangent wines at Vons, Taste Downtown, and at the Baileyana Tasting Room. Price points for this wine are between $12 and $20.

Another unique feature of the wine is the winemaker’s approach to producing the wine. Christian Roguenant, the principal winemaker for both Baileyana as well as tangent, has a diverse background making wine from France, Germany, Argentina, and New Zealand. You might also recognize his name on campus if you are in the Wine/Viticulture program, as he consults wine projects here on campus. Roguenant uses all stainless steel tanks and includes very little or no oak barrels for fermentation. The result – a clean, true to varietal taste.

In my quest for wines thus far, I have found that there are two sorts of wine you can buy. One is immediately unimpressive with little or no character and almost possesses a bland lack of personality. The other, is a surprise. This one has a uniqueness and gives you a peek through the looking glass into the winemaker’s practices and true wishes for the wine. It tastes as though you would be tasting it from a tasting room, straight from the barrel to the bottle. I am very much pleased to say that my encounter with tangent very much encompasses the later.

Tangent is available for purchase directly from the Baileyana Tasting Room located at 5828 Orcutt Rd, San Luis Obispo. They are also online at www.tangentwines.com.

Lauren Jeter is a 2005 wine and viticulture graduate and is pursuing a master’s degree in ag business.

Feel free to submit any recommendations, accolades, favorite wines or recipes to laurenjeter@gmail.com

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