Producing fantastic wines is an art that is no different than painting a picture onto a canvas with oil paints. With wine making, the canvas is what your nose senses, the palate taste and the visual beauty once poured into a fine crystal glass. What makes these two artists synonymous with each other is their passion to produce beautiful works of art.
One such winery is Kaena in the Santa Ynez Valley, where artist, Mikael Sigouin skillfully produces wines for his followers. Mikael is highly recognized for his artistic ability with a Rhone varietal known as Grenache. In 2006, Wine Spectator ranked him as one of the top 10 new Rhone producers. His Grenache wines are so highly rated that he is referred to as "The Grenache King". The grapes that he selects for his works of art are primarily from the Tierra Alta and Larner Vineyard in the Ballard Canyon AVA.
Though Mikael carries the crown as the king of Grenache, he has expanded his artwork to include Sauvignon Blanc and a spectacular Grenache Blanc.
The Grenache Blanc presents you with fine flavors of stone fruits, a nice body and perfectly balanced acidity. This wine was in stainless steel for 2 months, followed by 6 months in neutral French oak. What a masterpiece.
One major surprise for me was a 2015 Rose that Mikael gave me a barrel taste of. The primary grape in this Rose is Grenache Noir with Grenache Blanc and just a touch of Syrah and Grenache Gris. Looking at this wine in the glass you will immediately notice a very light tinge of red color. This is a key indication that this wine is not heavily extracted like many California Rose. Tasting this wine you get the subtle nuances of Grenache in beautiful harmony with the acids, providing a balanced and unique complexity. What a showpiece. Sipping this wine, I had visions that I was enjoying a Rose from Provence France. Fantastic wine.
Now the Grand Finale as if there really is one. Mikael produced a 2011 Hapa Reserve that is off the charts. This wine contains 50% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Grenache. Aged in new French oak barrels, this wine offers beautiful notes of mocha and chocolate along with dark fruits such as plum and dark cherries. This wine just coats your palate with an exceptionally long finish providing tremendous depth.
Mikael is gaining high accolades for his wines. His goal is to showcase the Grenache varietal from the Sana Ynez Valley. Tasting his Grenache over the years, it is extremely impressive on his accomplishments, quality and the beauty of his work. It is difficult to think that it could get much better.
His background of being half Hawaiian with a strong influences from his Grandmother are his inspirations. He attributes many of his skills in wine making to her. His Grandmother called him "Ka'ena'ai" which means "potential for greatness". It is easy to see that she knew he had potential and we wine drinkers receive the gift of his greatness in every bottle of Mikael's wines.