Today we are sharing a pair of wines made in Napa by Sean and Juliana McBride. Neither wine is a Cabernet or even a Bordeaux blend. The first is sourced from one of Napa Valley’s nested AVAs, the other is not. Intrigued? We received both wines as tasting samples.
Neither Sean or Juliana grew up in winemaking families, but both came to wine through life experiences. They have applied that experience to making wine, not just enjoying wine like most of us who appreciate wine.
Sean and Juliana made the move from the East Coast to Napa Valley and founded Crosby Roamann in 2006. There is no one named Crosby Roamann, but the winery is named for two of Sean’s relatives. Their first release was a 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Three lines of wine are made under the Crosby Roamann umbrella: Crosby Roamann sourced from estate vineyards and Sean Walker McBride, single-vineyard wines sourced from partner-grower vineyards. Also on the winery website is Bon Ton, a red blend made in limited quantities.
Winemaking begins with natural fermentations using ambient yeasts. Additives are minimal and the wines are generally not fined or filtered. Wines vary in style by site and are not manipulated into uniformity.
The four-acre estate vineyard is located in Napa Valley’s cool Los Carneros AVA and is undergoing transition to CCOF organic certification. It is planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The winemaking facility is located in Napa’s Crusher District. Through the purchase of carbon credits from CoolEffect.org to offset production, energy use, travel and shipping impacts, the facility is carbon neutral as of 2019. Annual production is about 2000 cases.
Today’s wines are part of the single-vineyard line of Crosby Roamann wines bottled under the Sean Walker McBride label.
2021 Sean Walker McBride Chardonnay, Laoise Vineyard, Los Carneros, Napa Valley — light golden with aromas of ripe pears, tropical fruit and oat hay. Flavors include pears and stone fruit with toasty background notes. The wine is a bit round with lively acidity and a long, clean finish with a bit of citrus pith. 13% abv. 110 cases made. SRP $35
Laoise (lee-sha), is an Irish girl’s name meaning radiant one. This small, half-acre vineyard is farmed conventionally and planted to clone 95 Chardonnay. Whole clusters were pressed to tank to settle. The wine fermented in neutral French oak barrels and aged for 15 months in the same barrels. This wine was lightly filtered.
2019 Sean Walker McBride Pinot Noir, Fiadh Vineyard, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County — translucent ruby-garnet with aromas of dark berries and earth. Flavors include dark berries, berry bramble and dried tobacco leaf in a barely-medium body. Tannins are surprisingly firm and drying, but well integrated. 13% abv. 117 cases made. SRP $38
Fiadh (fee-ah), also an Irish girl’s name, means wild or untamed. The one-acre block of Pinot Noir Dijon clones is planted near Boonville in the warmer, south end of the valley. The vineyard is farmed according to biodynamic principles. Winemaking: spontaneous fermentation, whole clusters, natural malolactic fermentation in barrel, aged for 12 months in French oak, 50% new.
Both wines are balanced, fresh and easy sipping on their own. That said, the Chardonnay has me craving Dungeness crab and the Pinot Noir a bowl of mushroom soup. As a bonus, both are very reasonably priced and have modest alcohol levels.
The one criticism we have with these wines is the “wax” capsules. Ugh, we dislike them intensely. They’re unnecessary and make it inconvenient to pull that cork. Besides, the Irish names and delicate labels are pretty enough to draw in wine enthusiasts on a purely aesthetic level. I’d much rather see these (and all) wines packaged without a capsule. And in lightweight bottles.
As mentioned above, Sean and Juliana make their wines in Napa’s Crusher District. The winemaking facility is located in an industrial park off the beaten path north of Meritage Resort And Spa. A number of tasting options are available; details are on the winery website.
Thanks to Feast PR for organizing our tasting.