Steve Situm from Carol Shelton Wines is our guest today on California Wine Country with Steve Jaxon and Dan Berger. Steve Jaxon begins by reading the story from Carol Shelton’s website, about how her mother played a game with her where she had to identify spices by their scent. She has been making wine for forty-two years and was the winemaker for Rodney Strong who made all of their award-winning wines. Since she did not get the recognition that she thought she deserved, she started her own label under her own name. Carol Shelton has been on California Wine Country on this February 6, 2019 episode, and again on this other episode from July 22, 2020.
Steve Situm started in wine in 1962 as a salesperson, and he worked with many of the greatest labels in the business. He considers her to be the greatest winemaker he has ever worked with. Dan Berger says that Carol Shelton is also great at selecting vineyards. It takes years of analysis before she purchases a vineyard. Steve Situm has been in wine sales since the early 1960s. Carol Shelton wines are in 43 states and “the wine speaks for itself” when he is making a sales presentation.
Carol Shelton tells her story on her website about the resistance she encountered as a woman winemaker. Dan remembers that Carols was making wine in the mid and late 1970s and later, in the 1980s she showed a sixth sense for varietal character and personality in wine.
\The 2021 Coquille Blanc Rhone-style blend is a good example of that. This has Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne and Viogner, the four best of the Rhone varieties. Carol’s style is all about balance. She also uses no pesticides and organically farmed fruit.
Carol Shelton Wines tasting room is 3354-B Coffey Lane in Santa Rosa, in the Coffey Business Park. Reservations are required at the website or by calling (707) 575-3441. There is nothing like the wines that Carol Shelton makes.
Now they are tasting the Coquille Rouge, the other blend. Dan mentions that in the 1940s and 50s, the wines coming from this region were rather generic blends all called “Burgundy.” This blend is similar to those but it is more stylish in the way it represents the Rhone Valley in France. Some of these wines are from 100-year-old vines in Contra Costa County. There are 5 varieties in this blend, all barrel fermented in French oak. Dan says there is nothing like this coming from any winery, with a great bouquet and a silky finish. Steve mentions this is Carol Shelton’s signature style. It is also an incredible value, at about $26.
Carol Shelton has more awards than any winemaker in the country. She has been awarded Winemaker of the Year eight times. Four of her wines have been in the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 in the last eight years.
The third wine tasted is a Rockpile reserve. The vineyard is gorgeous, says Dan. Carol Shelton recommended that the grower make some changes which had a great effect on the wine. The wine gets about 18 months in mostly French oak. It tastes more like a Cabernet than a Zinfandel, he thinks. This 2019 is as good as the 2018, which was the best Dan tasted that year. At well under $40 at Bottle Barn, it is a great value.