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Y. Rousseau, “Son of a Butcher” Proprietary RedNorth Coast, California 2019 (750mL)

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Y. Rousseau, “Son of a Butcher” Proprietary Red North Coast, California 2019 (750mL)

Fruit
Earth
Body
Tannin
Acid
Alcohol

Here’s the gutsy, crowd-pleasing table wine we all need in abundance right now—the covers are coming off the grills, people are starting to gather again, and I for one can’t wait to see my backyard picnic table filled with groaning plates and open bottles. 


When we first tasted Yannick Rousseau’s “Son of a Butcher” a few years back, we were shocked at how much juiciness and generosity he managed to coax from the Tannat grape. Not that we were complaining: This French-inspired, California-grown blend has since become a house-favorite red and an enduring value—a $25 “daily drinker” that outperforms many bottlings from Napa and Sonoma. Tannat might be the world’s most criminally underrated red grape, but Rousseau was put on earth to change that. He fell in love with the variety in his native Gascony, and studied at Madiran’s Château Montus (arguably the world’s most famous Tannat producer) before moving to California with the goal of putting Tannat on the map. His irresistible “Son of a Butcher” is the perfect introduction to the variety for anyone feeling a little gun-shy about its famously beefy structure. Like Yannick himself, this blend has one foot in the Old World and the other in the New—a Californian vin de pays, if you will. One sip will have you scratching your head over why this is your first dip in the Tannat pool—it offers the same texture and intensity I prize in the best Napa Cabernet Sauvignons without the cumbersome price tag. 




Aside from its varietal makeup, meanwhile, is the spirit in which “Son of a Butcher” is made: It’s not aiming to be a trophy bottling but instead an authentic “country” red that elevates the everyday wine experience. There aren’t many Californian winemakers inspired by the wines of Gascony—Yannick’s original home and the region of southwest France sandwiched between Toulouse and the Atlantic coastline. His first taste of wine was at the age of five: his grandfather Pepe’s “house wine” was made to pair with the dark red meats sold in the family butcher shop. Even then he was completely riveted, and later decided to break the multigenerational tradition of butchering by pursuing a full-time career in wine. He obtained his winemaking degree from Toulouse University and studied under the legendary Alain Brumont at Château Montus. 


After two years in Madiran, Yannick moved to California in 1999 and fell in love with the Valley...and then his wife, Susan. He worked for Newton Vineyards and Château Potelle before he and Susan struck out on their own. Their mission is to give traditional Gasconian varieties like Colombard and Tannat a home in Napa, while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of Californian wines—particularly those from the Mt. Veeder AVA. Most are small-batch, single-vineyard wines made in an Old World style, but “Son of a Butcher” is a playful shout-out to the red blends that put Gascony on the map and ignited Yannick’s passion for wine. 


But unlike his native Gascony, California offers unrestricted freedom to blend varieties together and create something both delicious and distinctive. The fruit for “Son of a Butcher” comes from both Napa and Sonoma; think of each vineyard as a puzzle piece, and Yannick snapping them together into an organic whole. Tannat isn’t exactly springing up left-and-right—he sources from the only Tannat vineyard in the Russian River AVA. The cool, foggy mornings and well-draining soil keep the Tannat fresh and crunchy; overripeness is the enemy here. The 2019 blend is 48% Tannat joined by 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 3% Malbec. Without question, the Tannat runs the show, but its infamous muscle is rounded and plumped by the other meticulously sourced fruit—most from high up on Mt. Veeder, which has always been the core of his Y. Rousseau wines. Son of a Butcher is aged in 25% new French oak for 18 months.


This blend is a deep, inky ruby/black in the glass, redolent of dark chocolate, white pepper, and potting soil. It doesn’t follow Tannat’s traditionally blocky lines but feels supple and plush even without decanting (although it won’t hurt to let it sit for half an hour). Serve this in Bordeaux stems just a hair under room temperature and notice that the muddled berry and licorice aromas are fresh rather than cooked or candied. That’s the influence of Mt. Veeder, where florality and minerality triumph over big jammy fruit. Moderate tannins and medium-plus acidity balance a jaunty blueberry-and-espresso flavored palate. The Tannat’s earthy core becomes more pronounced as the wine sits in your glass...which it won’t do for long. While all four component grape varieties are decidedly French, the final product is unmistakably California: rich and youthful and effortless. In deference to the Rousseau family’s original trade, pair this wine with red meat (or at least an Impossible Burger). I’d recommend a juicy lamb burger heaped with feta since Tannat accompanies gamey, salty flavors so well. With a burger in one hand and your glass in the other, someone else is going to have to open that second bottle.




Y. Rousseau, “Son of a Butcher” Proprietary Red North Coast, California 2019 - SommSelect

  • CountryUnited States
  • RegionCalifornia
  • Sub-RegionNapa & Sonoma Valleys
  • SoilMixed Loam
  • BlendTannat 48%, Cabernet Sauvignon 27%, Merlot 22%, Malbec 3%
  • Alcohol14.5%
  • OakFrench Barrels, 25% New

  • CountryUnited States
  • RegionCalifornia
  • Sub-RegionNapa & Sonoma Valleys
  • SoilMixed Loam
  • BlendTannat 48%, Cabernet Sauvignon 27%, Merlot 22%, Malbec 3%
  • Alcohol14.5%
  • OakFrench Barrels, 25% New
  • Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2025
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingMediterranean Lamb Burger