Two Shepherds Trousseau Gris Review

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I always love seeing a winery that zigs when everyone tries to zag, or whatever that exact saying is.  William Allen at Two Shepherds does a hell of a job producing naturally made wine from Rhone varietals-but, in the land of Rhone, being different can even stand out. In this case, a lesser known and barely planted varietal known as Trousseau Gris-a grey skinned French wine grape that I’m fairly sure, you’ve never heard of! Here’s a Two Shepherds Trousseau Gris review and some more info on both the varietal and the winery and winemaker that made it.

Video Transcription:

two shepherds trousseau gris front labelHi, guys. It’s Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. I’m joined today by a bottle of Two Shepherds Trousseau Gris. If you are not the heaviest French wine drinker in the world, you’ve probably never heard of the grape. Quite honestly, I hadn’t either. There’s a list of these 5,000 grape varieties that are grown somewhere in the world. They’re usually only these small, tiny patches of land. There’s something of a competition among wine lovers and wine bloggers about how many of these you can try. Trousseau Gris is always on the list. Part of the reason why it’s always on the list is, for those of us that live in California, there is one single vineyard of this stuff in the Russian River Valley. It’s 10 acres and that’s it.

William Allen who makes the wine at Two Shepherds, which we’ve shipped in all of our three wine clubs before, has done now a couple years of this. Now, this is the third vintage. Trousseau Gris, so it’s technically a white wine. It is more grey on the skin than anything else. They used to call it Grey Riesling, and so the amount of skin contact that this stuff gets dramatically determines the color. When William the winemaker and owner of Two Shepherds, when he made this a couple years back that I think the first vintage, I think he said that he had it on the skins for 12 days. It came out this orangy, somewhere in between a red and a white, almost rose in color.

Now, he leaves it on only for a few days. I think he said five in the most recent vintage. You get a much crisper version of it. Although, it does come out maybe not quite orange but it doesn’t look like a white. I’ll put it that way. I really think this is a great example of what William does as a winemaker at Two Shepherds. These are all native yeast ferments. When you walk into a lot of wineries, you see this booklet. Every winery has some type of chemistry lab. Even if the winemaker is more of an artist instead of a scientist, you would see some type of chemistry lab so they can test pH, so they can test bricks of grapes, etc., etc. Oftentimes you’ll see this big, thick book.

two shepherds trousseau gris back labelThat big, thick book isn’t anybody … In my house, that would be somebody trying to read in kindergarten. There, it’s all the lists of all the chemicals and stuff that can be added to wine. There’s about 300 or so that can be added without having to add anything to the label. One of the biggest ones that almost everybody uses is yeast, and so they pick yeast by a catalog often. Often in that catalog, it’ll say if you choose this yeast, this is the flavors that it’s going to impart. This is the number of days that it’s going to take for fermentation to finish, but you don’t have to. If you’re in a shared facility, of course, you might as well. There’s going to be all this stuff floating around anyway, you might as well choose and know what you’re getting.

One of the biggest commercial [strands 00:02:56] is going to take over your ferment anyway. Two Shepherds, William’s in his own facility now. The big advantage for him is … He’s a native yeast guy. On the average grape, there’s about seven different types of yeast. The fun thing is as fermentation goes, these all don’t all start working at the same time and all work the whole time and then finish. One will start, another will take over, etc., etc. Eventually, you have to pay attention and eventually fermentation will end. Fermentation in essence is just changing sugar into alcohol, and that’s what the end result is either way. I think there is a certain element of natural yeast and native yeast on grapes that adds something to wine.

I think it naturally lowers alcohol content, and I think it naturally adds a little bit of acidity. You don’t have to add acidity to wine. In any case, starting to ramble a little bit here. Trousseau Gris, really one of the shining stars in the Two Shepherds lineup. It’s one of those where I think if you had to sell this based on the name alone, you would have a really tough time. When people come into the tasting room, obviously it’s something that’s different.

I think I’ve [droned 00:04:05] on for hours at times about in the sea of Napa or Sonoma wine or Paso Robles now or Santa Barbara County, when people are getting the same, same thing and being told the same story everywhere, being something like Two Shepherds where you are natural yeast, you are native ferments, and you do do a grape every so often that is really different that no one’s ever had before, I think that’s a way to set yourself apart. I think that’s a way to earn sales. I bet you when people come in and they taste through the Two Shepherds wine, they take a bottle of this home. They take a bottle of something else, too. Once again, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. I would really love to do one of these in a wine club.

I don’t know if it’s going to work in the next couple months. He produced all of 125 cases. That’s, I believe, one of the largest production Trousseau Gris in California if you believe it or not. There’s very, very little of it made. I think that’s what makes it exciting.

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