Weekends are when I usually tell you about the plethora of wine events in the coming week … but next week is looking a little slow, what with the holiday and all.
So what better time to discover a new favorite wine place?
If you haven’t checked out the Wine Venues Guide in awhile, you’ll notice a few new spots on the list, including a couple I hadn’t visited in several years, simply because they’d fallen out of my usual rotation.
One of those is Quantum Leap Winery in the Mills-50 district, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. On a recent visit, I found a friendly space and passionate people who are taking risks, breaking rules, and making some pretty cool wines.
Hidden Away, But Not Undiscovered
If you’ve never been to Orlando’s only winery, you’ll probably get lost the first time you go. The industrial-styled building is on a tiny side street off Virginia, behind Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa.
The last time I went in for a tasting a few years ago, things were so quiet I felt a bit conspicuous. Not so when I stopped in on a recent Friday afternoon. There was a nice buzz of activity around the tasting bar and at the tables scattered around the airy space.
I tasted through Quantum’s wine offerings with Sales Manager Matt Uva (he actually does a lot more than his title suggests, with a hand in the winemaking too). Winemaker Norm Saley joined us for a bit, and then took me on a tour of the winery.
Quantum Leap doesn’t use Florida grapes; instead, Norm works with growers in California, Oregon, Washington, Italy, and South Africa, who do the initial fermentation in situ. The resulting liquid is shipped to Orlando, where Norm does the blending, aging, and general winemaking magic.
He and Matt are passionate about the wines they make. A few are fairly conventional, like their 2012 North Coast California pinot noir, but many tend toward the wild and creative. If you read this blog regularly, you know I’m a sucker for weird wines, so my interest was piqued by several of these.
A Kitchen Sink Rosé
One of the wildest is the 2014 “Grape Pedaler” Columbia Valley Washington rosé. It’s a blend of eight grapes, and to say they don’t usually go together would be an understatement! First there’s the grenache, syrah, and mourvedre you’d expect to find in a typical Provencal rosé. But there are also Bordeaux varietals – cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot. There’s even a little sangiovese and pinot noir thrown in.
Matt says this kitchen sink rosé came about because of what he calls an “$8,000 mistake.” It seems he and Norm were divided over whether to make a Provencal-style rosé (Matt’s choice) or a California style using the Bordeaux grapes (Norm’s preference). They both thought they’d won the argument … so they bought all the grapes. And they threw them all in!
The resulting wine is like no rosé you’ve probably ever had. It’s a deep ruby color – more like a pinot noir than a rosé. The nose is full of red juicy fruits, but it’s dry on the palate, with good minerality. I hear they’re running extremely low, so if you want to try it, best to get over there quick!
More Wild & Creative Wines
Even Quantum’s Willamette Valley (OR) pinot noir is a bit unconventional, in that it’s non vintage. Matt and Norm wanted a ready-to-drink wine, but the ’13 needed more time. The ’14 was ready to drink, but it needed more body. “Why not blend them?” they thought. The resulting wine is smooth, well balanced, and very enjoyable.
A couple of other interesting wines:
- 2012 Panther’s Tale, a blend of corvina (the grape used to make Amarone) and merlot from Italy’s Veneto region
- 2013 Horse Heaven Hills (WA) malbec, a lovely example of a varietal I don’t often like, with great tannins and smoky meat on the palate. Right now, it’s exclusive to Quantum’s wine club.
Quantum Leap makes a full line of ciders too. I haven’t had a chance to try those yet, but I’m very curious.
Quantum has come a long way since it opened to the public in 2012. If you haven’t stopped in for awhile, it’s definitely worth another look.