Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In the case of Rarecat Wines it is the splendor of the wine and the female inspiration behind these wines, including the Chardonnay. For Sharon Kazan Harris, owner of Rarecat Wine, it is about that rare exquisiteness that can be found when you least expect it. Sometimes it does not reveal itself all at once. Sharon herself represents that rare beauty. It comes through in her wines, especially the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Her wines are beautifully elegant and have that feminine touch.
At the age of twenty, Sharon had a once in a lifetime experience that changed her life forever. While an undergrad at UCLA, studying international economics, she had a chance to study abroad. This trip took her to Bordeaux where the President of the University of Bordeaux’s wife befriended her. Through this friendship, she was taken on a private tour of Château Haut Brion lead by Monsieur Delmas. After this experience she was drawn to Bordeaux and winemaking but put thoughts of being involved in the wine industry on the back burner. Instead, she went into the world of publishing and technology.
The Bordeaux adventure never left Sharon’s mind, and in 1999 she purchased vineyards in Calistoga. In 2000 she began planting the vineyard. Today you might say Sharon as a female winemaker is bi-continental because she has a home both in Napa and in St. Emilion in the heart of Bordeaux.
Sharon’s enology education occurred when she had a rare opportunity come her way; she was accepted in the Diplome Universitaire d’Aptitude a la Degustation des Vins at the University of Bordeaux. Needless to say, Sharon’s winemaking prowess is deeply rooted in the Bordeaux style.
Rarecat Wines are defined as single-vineyard wines. Sharon also has a second label called R. Cat. These are her vineyard blends, and as Sharon says, “they are more flirtatious”.
On a recent visit to Los Angeles, I met Sharon for lunch and sample three of her wines. The first was Rarecat 2014 Brigitte Rosé. The Rosé’s name, Brigitte, pays homage to the first time Sharon sipped a Rosé. It was at a restaurant in St. Tropez, and there was a black and white photo of Brigitte Bardot on the wall.
This wine is Provence styled and composed of primarily Grenache with a small amount of Viognier added to round out the wine. This Rosé speaks summer and is what Sharon calls “Liquid Happiness” and is like an “elegant lady”. This is the first year of production for this Rosé. With the perfect balance of acidity and minerality there are wonderful aromas of strawberries. There is a creamy quality to the wine that emphasizes the strawberry and peach flavors.
The 2011 Rarecat Charles Heintz Chardonnay, Russian River, Sonoma County, is a Burgundian styled wine with a beautiful golden color. The Chardonnay is very balanced with flavors of caramel, lemon curd, and Meyer lemons. The wine is creamy with a viscous quality.
Rarecat Cabernet Sauvignon
Finally, the wine that I would say most defines Rarecat is the 2009 Old Toll Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes come from the hillside slopes of the Old Toll vineyard in Calistoga that receives no afternoon sunlight. In addition to the Cabernet, this wine has a small percentage of Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and a touch of Merlot. After opening, one will notice how together and integrated the wine is. The soft tannins are a pure expression of the land. The wine is very subtle with flavors of black fruit including plums as well as leather and mocha. Every component of this wine complements each other and unites forming a very elegant, slightly earthy wine. I was dually impressed.
The future is bringing something very exciting into Sharon’s world. She is planning on creating a Rarecat wine in Bordeaux, a St Emilion Grand Cru. It will be quite an accomplishment when this comes to fruition because no other American nor has a woman exceeded in achieving what Sharon is setting out to undertake.
For Sharon it is not just making an elegant wine but the experience of bringing people together through a bottle of wine. That is the beauty wine bestows upon us.
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