Winery/Vineyard: Otra Cosa, La Cresta & Sage Vineyards
Product/Varietal: White Blend — 41% Pinot Grigio + 41% Viognier + 18% Sauvignon Blanc
AVA on Bottle: Riverside County
Winemaker: Joseph Wiens
How They Describe It
2019 Land Of The Sun
White Wine Blend
our first, by OTRA COSA
Crispy crunchy acidity, floral, tropical, green herbs, clean finish.
Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc
La Cresta & Sage Vineyard, Riverside County
This is a blend of three separately fermented white wines, all of which were fermented in stainless steel to keep the character light and bright. The intention was to create a mouthwatering, crisp white wine with good balance, and a fruit forward aromatic profile.
How I Describe It
This wine appears on the medium side of lemon yellow. Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc tend to be more richly hued, while Pinot Grigio is notably pale. The Otra Cosa 2019 Land of the Sun splits the difference.
The Otra Cosa 2019 Land of the Sun embraces its youthfulness. Consequently, the aromas (and the flavors, below) are straightforward and bright — like sticking your nose in a freshly opened bag of Skittles. A nicely balanced blend of green fruit, citrus, tropical fruit, and stone fruit hit first; namely green apple, pear, lemon, tangerine, pineapple, and peach. The wine also has plenty of floral characteristics, with hints of elderflower, honeysuckle, geranium, and a bit of wet stone.
A burst of apples dipped in honey leads the way, followed shortly after by kumquat and tangerine. Peach and tart pineapple are more understated, but they’re definitely there. Chamomile appears on the finish.
The Otra Cosa 2019 Land of the Sun looks, feels, tastes, and smells like it’s off-dry (i.e., it tastes sweet from remaining residual sugar or RS). In fact, the surprisingly low 11.6% alcohol signals the winemakers stopped fermentation to retain those sugars. However, you’d be wrong. RS in this wine is below 0.2%, making it solidly dry. It does, however, have fairly high acid. This helps cut into the characteristically viscous or oily mouthfeel often found in Viogniers. For that reason, the wine has a medium-plus body, medium flavor intensity, and an impressively long finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
The Otra Cosa 2019 Land of the Sun is the dry wine for drinkers who love sweet wines. The illusion stems from a trifecta of individual characteristics which, when combined, are normally found in sweeter wines, but which Otra Cosa winemaker Joseph Wiens expertly blended manually to produce a similar effect.
First is the alcohol content. Those familiar with the Temecula Valley AVA know that even the white wines can have >14% ABV. Sweet wines tend to have lower alcohol because winemakers stop fermentation to prevent yeast from converting all the sugar into alcohol. So, 11.6% alcohol might lead some to believe the winemaker kept the wine sugary. Nope.
Second is the wine’s viscosity. Normally, the three things which can give white wines added “thickness” are alcohol, sugar, and malolactic fermentation (MLF). We know the alcohol is on the low end. And the level of tartness points to no MLF. So, one could reasonably believe the remaining reason — sugar — was the culprit. Nope again.
Last was the palate. The 2019 Land of the Sun is a fruit-forward wine. Deliciously so. However, fruit characteristics can cloak dryness. More significantly were the wine’s honey notes. Honey is a common flavor in sweet wines, which can get more intense as RS rises. This wine tastes very honeyed, so higher RS is a reasonable assumption. And yet, nope.
In reality, the lower alcohol content likely stems from a fairly early harvest, as well as the cooling altitude in the La Cresta Vineyard, where some of their grapes were sourced. The viscosity likely comes from the Viognier, which can impart a somewhat oily mouthfeel. And the flavors are simply because Joseph Wiens is a talented winemaker who knows how to create superb white blends.
The last thing worth mentioning is the AVA. It’s neither Temecula Valley nor South Coast. The bottle’s designation is Riverside County. What gives?
The next time you visit a grocery or liquor store, take a look at the wines from Napa. Unless the AVA is more specific, you might see Napa Valley on the bottle, or you might see Napa County. You might see something similar with Sonoma wines. The reason is counties receive automatic AVA designation. It’s less noticeable when the county and its nested AVA share the same name, but is more eye-catching when a Temecula wine uses the word Riverside on its label.
The reason Otra Cosa uses Riverside County as its AVA is because of where Sage Vineyard is located. It’s just a few miles due east of Lake Skinner — super close to Temecula wine country, though just barely outside the AVA boundaries. The winery could have used the South Coast AVA, but the unique choice to use Riverside County aligns with their brand of doing things a little bit differently than the other guys.
When & How I Would Drink It
Otra Cosa’s 2019 Land of the Sun is the kind of wine you’d drink when you’re looking for something simple and refreshing, or which won’t overpower what you’re eating.
Case in point, this is a wine worth breaking out when relaxing poolside, and absolutely when with friends. It’s ideal for brunches, pairing with egg dishes, cured meats and shellfish equally well.
I tasted this wine after a dinner of scallop and corn chowder. The Land of the Sun’s viscosity and rich flavors aligned well with the chowder’s creaminess, and the lack of tannins fits perfectly with the umami scallops.
How to Get It
Bottle Price: $20.00
Cases Produced: 115 cases
Have you tried the Otra Cosa 2019 Land of the Sun? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.