Monthly Archives: May 2019

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 12, 2019

2016 Big Basin Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Lester Family Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains -photo grapelive

2016 Big Basin Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Lester Family Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Bradley Brown’s whole cluster, thrilling no holds barred, Lester Family Vineyard Pinot is a wine that is just coming into it’s own with an amazing array of flavors, it’s got an edgy (stems) nature and a complex palate of fruit and savory elements that hits all the right notes. The Lester Vineyard, in the Corralitos foothills, very close to the Alfaro Family Vineyards, of the southwestern tip of the Santa Cruz Mountains and just a few miles from the deep waters and abundant fog of Monterey Bay is set on soils that are sandy loam over sedimentary base rock, it’s a site perfect for exciting Pinot. Local vine guru, Prudy Foxx, who looks after many of the finest vineyard plots in the region was original planter of the Lester Family Vineyard and one of area’s best viticulture consultants making this a great spot to get grapes, and Big Basin does so with awesome effect, especially with this gorgeous 2016 vintage. Made most from heritage clone (Mount Eden) and a touch of 667 the 13.3% natural alcohol 2016 Lester was made using native yeasts and got a long cold soak with hand only punch downs using 100% whole cluster and full stem inclusion, all done in what Brown calls an old world or traditional style, and it saw just about 25% new wood in which it was raised for 18 months.

Big Basin, known mostly for their signature estate grown Rattlesnake Rock Alban Clone Syrah and other Rhone style offerings, should not get overlooked for their Chardonnay and Pinots, in particular the Coastview, Alfaro and this Lester version, these are glorious wines that are impressive in every way. This beautiful ruby red 2016 Lester, which takes its time to open up is loaded with energy, sharp detail and has gripping personality with layers of black cherry, plum, pomegranate and racy strawberry fruits with briar spiciness, a slightly herbal element and heady rose petal perfume starts the grand performance adding a hint of mint tea, smoke, cinnamon and a soft kiss of the French oak as well as having a nice burst of acidity and a subtle mineral charm, all of which makes this a very special Pinot. The mouth feel is still a bit rustic and there is an earthy quality in the background, which I am seduced by, but it should also gain in texture and smooth out further over the coming 2 or 3 years and drink well for the next decade.
($55 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 11, 2019

2018 Morgan Winery, Riesling, Double L Vineyard Estate, Santa Lucia Highlands -photo grapelive

2018 Morgan Winery, Riesling, Double L Vineyard Estate, Santa Lucia Highlands.
The 2018 vintage is shaping up to be one of the greatest on the Central Coast in living memory and there have been some exceptional wines released already, and one of the most unexpected of these is Morgan’s highly impressive Double L Riesling, which to fair has always been a nice example, but this new one is just absolutely fantastic! The wine’s slightly off-dry style and brisk acidity keep it balanced and fresh, and as the winery puts it, it is very much like a traditional German “Kabinett” or Feinherb in the glass and it shows amazing purity, one of the best west coast Rieslings I’ve tried so far. With it’s noticeable residual sugar, it is slightly sweet on the palate, but less so than many Chardonnays if you are honest and the sugar, as in Germany is not at cloying, it really allows the acidity to refreshing instead of blisteringly hard and gives sense of texture without being weighty, this stuff is finely balanced and makes the wine wonderfully quaffable, it is a stunner that will go with lots of food choices. Also, it feels low in alcohol and has a crystalline form with crisp detailing, winemaker Sam Smith, who has significantly raised the game here at one of Monterey’s top estates, adds that the Riesling grapes were foot stomped and left on the skins for 18 hours, then whole-cluster pressed. Then he used 100% stainless fermentation, which was then as he notes, arrested by quickly chilling down the tanks to achieve an off-dry style and the low alcohol, all done to preserve the fresh intensity of Morgan’s Riesling, while still achieving a serious wine with plenty of extract.

The Double L Vineyard, set on the Highlands bench with sandy loam, is at the northern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands where the ultra-cool marine influenced climate and porous, mountainside soils provide ideal conditions for growing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which Morgan makes, plus this Riesling. The 2018 touts some traditional Riesling flavors of key lime and lemon verbena along with a touch of apricot, green apple and some heightened aromatics with jasmine, clove, orange blossom and hint of honey as well as some contrasting savory and saline elements, wet rock, wild mint and camomile on the light to medium bodied palate. Enjoy this as a porch pounder, a summer sipper and or with a beach picnic, but for even more interesting results this new Double L Riesling should be matched up with some spicy cuisine, like Vietnamese or Thai as well as seafood dishes that have some heat to them. I’d even suggest trying this beautiful fruit driven Riesling with chili shrimp dishes and or street food, especially tacos and hot sauce laced items as it adds a cool comfort. Morgan’s 2018’s have started off with a bang with their Rosé of Grenache, Albarino and this Riesling all being classy and exciting efforts, and be sure also to check out their 2017 Double L Chardonnay and 2017 G17 Syrah, they are fabulous too, keep an eye out for them.
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 10, 2019

2018 Martha Stoumen Wines & Las Jaras “Bam Bam” Sparkling Valdiguie, Petillant Naturel, Mendocino County -photo grapelive

2018 Martha Stoumen Wines & Las Jaras “Bam Bam” Sparkling Valdiguie, Pétillant-Naturel, Mendocino County.
The ultra fun and cool red sparkler from Martha Stoumen, in collaboration with Las Jaras is a 100% Valdiguie Pet-Nat from the same vineyard in Mendocino that she gets her Carignan. This old vine site was just screaming to be expressed in a totally new way and Las Jaras and Martha Stoumen Wines hatched up a plan to make a unique California carbonic, petillant (sparkling) red wine, and the results have proven that they were not crazy, in fact this juicy/savory bubbly is about as fun as it gets without getting thrown in jail! The racy red sparkler Bam Bam by Stoumen is a continuation of her style and personality with a natural character showing tart cherries, black raspberry, wild plum and a red peachy note along with zesty spice, herb and earthy elements as well as a bright mineral and acid streak in a lightly fizzy medium bodied Pet-Nat. Not as heavy as Aussie sparkling Shiraz, but with that same kind of thrill and presence in the glass with the soft mouse adding to the enjoyment, this is a refreshing and low alcohol wine that goes great with food. Not much of this stuff was made, so while not cheap, it should sell out fast and is very cool, I went through the bottle insanely quickly, its quaffable charm is irresistible, I’m glad I had bottle of Stoumen’s signature Nero d’Avola to follow it up!

There is a lot to love with Stoumen’s latest set of wines, and a wide variety of things to try from delicate whites to rustic reds and of course this sparkler, I love the mentioned Nero d’Avola, but also be sure to check out her Carignan and the Varietal Incorrect Zinfandel. Stoumen joins an amazing list of young women winemakers that are doing exciting things here in California, like Samantha Sheehan of Poe Wines, Jaimee Motley, Nicole Walsh of Ser Wines (who also is the winemaker at Bonny Doon), Megan Glaab at Ryme Cellars, Helen Keplinger, Sabrine Rodems (Wrath, Scatch & Kori), Annette Hoff of Cima Collina and Angela Osborne of Tribute to Grace just to name a few of my favorites, though the list is much longer! Stoumen, after winemaking stints in the wilds of the old world in the Languedoc and her time in Sicily, has certainly made a splash here and her talent is our reward with her lovely transparent wines that highlight her philosophy of working primary with organic grapes and sustainable growers to make low sulphur, low alcohol and authentic natural wines. Again you’ll need to act fast to get this food friendly Bam Bam Sparkling Valdiguie, and in case you not into bubbles, you’ll still want to check out Stoumen’s latest releases.
($45 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 9, 2019

2015 Mount Eden, Pinot Noir, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains -photo grapelive

2015 Mount Eden Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The 2015 Mount Eden Estate Pinot Noir by Jeffery Patterson is an absolute stunner with everything you’d expect from this address, one of the state’s best wine producers and unique terroirs. Patterson, one of California’s most renown vignerons, doesn’t always get mentioned as he should and shuns the spotlight, but is a certain hall of famer when it comes to California wine, with the likes of Rochioli, Williams Selyem, Calera, Chalone and Hanzell, just to name a few, and this gorgeous 2015 vintage shows why and along with his Chardonnay are in the top ten of the vintage. Mount Eden’s Pinot is planted on infertile Franciscan shale soils, the vineyards are 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean on rugged mountaintop in the Santa Cruz Mountains and enjoy a cool, but sunny climate above the fog line, it comes from vines that were propagated from selections brought to California by French winemaker Paul Masson, who was himself from Burgundy and knew where to get good cuttings, but these Pinot vines are now known as Mount Eden clone. Patterson’s Estate Pinot Noir vines occupy just seven acres of the property vineyard and typically yield a meager one to one-and-a-half tons per acre making for a concentrated and complex wine that rivals the world’s best. Deep in color and textural quality the ruby/garnet hued 2015 delivers an amazing performance in the glass and should age for decades with a lovely combination of rich detail, a perfumed nose, an elegant parade of black and red fruits as well as having structural balance and vitality, this is special stuff. Patterson notes, his Pinot Noir is the first variety harvested at Mount Eden, as is made with 100% natural yeasts, its fermentation is done in small open-top fermentor(s) with about fourteen days needed, all with hand pilage (punch-downs). After primary is done the Pinot is then immediately put into 75% new and 25% one-year-old French Burgundy barrels, where It is raised for eighteen months with slow natural malos before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Layered and wonderfully expressive the Mount Eden Estate 2015 shows blackberry, plum and strawberry fruits around a core of black cherry as well as having a touch of sweet smoke, earthy tones, wilted rose petals, candied blood orange, tea spices and a touch of cinnamon and shaved vanilla. This is a stylish and luxurious Pinot Noir, that while quite densely packed and gripping, has tremendous mouth feel and length, a seductive mineral streak which comes out with air and don’t let that new wood fool you, this wine is all about the purity of form it is gorgeous in dimension and has absorbed the oak almost completely leaving the stage for that impressive fruit.

Mount Eden is one of the most celebrated and cherished small boutique wineries in California making estate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from their vines 2,000 feet up above what is now Silicon Valley, it was founded as Martin Ray Estate back in the mid 1940s and over the following 20 plus years became known for their Chard and Pinot. In 1970 Ray lost the property to an investor coup and in 1972 it became Mount Eden, and they hired Pinot guru Richard Graff who had founded Chalone, who crafted the legendary 1972 and 1973 vintages before the owners brought on the little known woman winemaker Merry Edwards, who is now a California icon! In the more modern era of Mount Eden Vineyards Jeffrey Patterson, winemaker has made the estate one of California’s absolute best, he was originally hired as the assistant winemaker back in 1981. Having graduated in biology from UC Berkeley in 1975, Patterson was fortunate to have been in Berkeley in the 1970s when local food and wine in the Bay Area were becoming relevant with the likes of Alice Waters creating a huge buzz. This is when she opened the famed Chez Panisse and Kermit Lynch had just started bringing in some of the great undiscovered wines of France, and the public were getting their first chance to explore French cuisine as well as have it paired with famous old world wines, all of which inspired and helped form Patterson’s future approach to his wines. He even took a three week honeymoon with his wife Ellie where they toured France including the cellars of Domaine Dujac and Domaine Leflaive, both of which left a great impression on this young winemaker who had just gone through enology and viticulture classes at UC Davis. From the early eighties after Jeffery and Ellie took over the running of Mount Eden things went from obscure successes to world wide stardom, and that level is still in full effect today, it especially shows in this 2015 Estate Pinot Noir. Thank you to Ellie Patterson for sharing their current releases with me recently, I am incredibly grateful for the experience. This is brilliant Pinot, and if you love Pinot you’ll want to get some of this to drink over the next 10 to 15 years and do not overlook the Estate Chardonnay, which is just as good, as well as their 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that is on par with Ridge and Corison, two of my favorite wines!
($65 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 8, 2019

2018 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains -photo grapelive

2018 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains.
One of California’s great values and one of my favorite Summer wines, the Alfaro Rosé of Pinot Noir is a flavorful and exciting dry pink wine that delivers a stylish balance between juicy fruit density and mineral driven elegance, it is a Rosé that enjoys a full range of cuisine choices and is an obviously excellent porch pounder. The cool climate terroir of Corralitos allows for this riper style to excel as it still carries refreshing acidity and Alfaro has done a great job of balancing this one, and the vintage maybe the best we’ve seen in the region, making this 2018 one of the most exciting to date. The generous fruit includes vivid watermelon, strawberry and super intense sweet and sour cherries bursting out on the medium bodied palate along with hints of rosewater, candied citrus, lavender and wet stones as well as touches of loamy earth, spice and wild herbs.

Winemaker Richard Alfaro fermented his Rosé of Pinot Noir in stainless steel and aged it for 3.5 months in neutral (French) oak to give a subtle soft roundness while still having plenty of energy and pop, which this 2018 highlights. This new lineup of Alfaro Family Vineyards wine is exceptional and there are some fabulous offerings to try, I especially love Richard’s 2017 Chardonnays led by the estate grown Lindsay Paige Vineyard, his limited Heritage Clones Pinot Noir and the wonderfully expressive 2018 La Playita Vineyard Gruner Veltliner, one of California’s best examples of this Austrian grape. It’s hard to imagine a more solid set of wines for the money than Alfaro’s current bottlings, these are insanely good values for the complexity and quality in the glass and this salmon/pink hued Rosé of Pinot Noir with its steely core and rich fruit is impossible to resist, drink it up.
($18.50 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 7, 2019

2018 Reeve, Sangiovese “Bosco” Chalk Hill, Sonoma County -photo grapelive

2018 Reeve, Sangiovese “Bosco” Chalk Hill, Sonoma County.
The lovely and generous Reeve Bosco Sangiovese shows ripe fruit, nice juicy acidity and a satiny texture with open layers of red fruit, light spices and delicate floral tones. There is a lot to enjoy in this version of this Tuscan grape, a grape that has proven a bit of an enigma in California as a single varietal, but with Reeve’s approach and deft touch in the winemaking this one really works. Reeve Wines, founded by Noah and Kelly Dorrance, is one of the hottest newer label in California with an allstar winemaking team that includes Ross Cobb, of Cobb Wines and Katy Wilson of LaRue, along with Noah they put out some tasty stuff, including this vibrant and juicy Bosco mostly carbonic Sangiovese from the Chalk Hill AAVA, and while known for their Pinot Noir and Riesling are intensely focused on Sangiovese. Noah and Kelly have special love for Tuscany, where they got married, and in particular Cortona, which is home to one of Italy’s most intriguing wineries, d’Alessandro and their iconic vineyard “Il Bosco” which is the reason for the name on this one. Sangiovese is really hit or miss in the new world and rather difficult to make standout wines from, but Dorrance is looking to change that, one exception of course is Leonetti’s Walla Walla version in Washington State, and while the Reeve version is completely different, more in line in fact with the fun Stolpman Love You Bunches Sangiovese, which is also whole cluster and full carbonic.

This new Sangiovese is made using mostly carbonic fermentation to accentuate the bright aromatics & red candied cherry, with the grapes sourced from the lower block of Sangiovese at Chalk Hill’s Windsor Oaks Vineyard, the wine includes a small percentage of Dolcetto from the Windsor Oaks Vineyard as well, along with a touch of traditional fermented wine to add backbone. The Bosco’s profile shows racy plum, sweet cherry, strawberry and pomegranate fruits with a medium body and contrasting elements that include dried rose petals, pipe tobacco, a hint of cedar, anise and mint. As it opens it rounds out on the vibrant palate, adds a touch of mineral and deepens in chewy flavors making it very intriguing and great with food, it has a lot to offer with its warm California fruit, but with its varietal character showing through. The carbonic freshness adds to the joy, especially appealing is its generous style and can be served with a slight chill for backyard quaffing with grilled meats, BBQ fare and or pasta dishes. Reeve’s latest set of wines is a very stylish set of offerings, in particular this one, but also be sure to check out their fabulous Rosé of Pinot Noir, their Riesling and their superb Anderson Valley Pinot Noir as well, this is an impressive label to follow, plus don’t miss a chance to visit the beautiful Reeve estate/tasting room in the Dry Creek Valley.
($38 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 6, 2019

2014 Tofanelli Family Vineyard, Charbono, Napa Valley -photo grapelive

2014 Tofanelli Family Vineyard, Charbono, Napa Valley.
The super dark and lush 2014 Charbono by Tofanelli shows a layered palate of rich blackberry, boysenberry, plum and fig fruits along with hints of sake, cedar and vanilla before adding a floral tone and licorice element with air. This full bodied red is impressive and polished with an expressive boldness that you can taste, it’s a pure and uniquely Napa wine that adds hints of lavender, violette, cassis/grenadine, tobacco leaf, spicy cinnamon and subtle earthiness. Tofanelli made 10 barrels in 2014 and 20% were new French oak, which you can taste and feel, with the rest in mostly neutral wood, they de-stemmed and hand sorted their Charbono, with the final blend being 85% Estate Charbono and 15% Estate Petite Sirah, with the Petite really showing in the opaque purple in the glass and giving a firm backbone of raw tannin. For those that love Zinfandel, this rare Charbono will certainly appeal and thrill, the grape which is also known as Bonarda, as it is called in Argentina, is thought to be from Northern Italy, or the Savoie region of France, where it is known as Douce Noir, but is very obscure, it was believed to be first mentioned 3000 years ago by the Etruscans and it’s still a rarity in both the old and new world. Tofanelli’s version is one of best in California and this vintage showing the year off to great effect with depth and a polish performance, it has wonderful mouth feel and length.

Tofanelli a long time Napa grower supplied many vintages to top names in the Valley including some legendary stuff made by Turley Cellars, the vineyard which was established back in 1929 has an old vine selection of Zinfandel, Charbono, Sauvignon Musqué, Semillon, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Grenache, Mondeuse Noir and Cinsault. Their heritage vineyard is located at the top of the Napa Valley near the town of Calistoga and is as it always was with no irrigation, all farmed without pesticides to organic principles and these gnarly head trained vines take you back to another era. Vince Tofanelli recognizes that in the Napa Valley, he enjoys a climate that can give his wines incredible concentration, and that he strives to moderate that to achieve a final product that goes with food and has the ability to age, he adds that while he needs to take care as not to make a one dimensional or monolithic wine, he appreciates the hedonistic density his terroir gives. This 2014 Charbono grabs your attention and it certainly it is a full bodied and bold wine, but it is very impressive with a nice complex personality, it is a big wine that delights with more robust cuisine and it should please for the decade ahead.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 5, 2019

2017 Sandlands, Chenin Blanc, California -photo grapelive

2017 Sandlands, Chenin Blanc, California.
Tegan Passalacqua’s inter-regional Chenin, under his Sandlands label is a beauty with fresh detail and lively fruit with pure peachy charms and delicate mineral focus. This wine is 58% Chenin of Passalacqua’s own Kirschenmann Vineyard, in the Mokelumne River AVA of Lodi, and 42% Chenin from the Buhdda Vineyard located on the Talmage bench in Mendocino County. Wonderfully balanced and rich in texture this graceful white is only 12.4% natural alcohol, making it feel easy to quaff, though it comes through as a complex and serious wine. The Sandlands label is the personal project of Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua, a small winery that does a line-up that encompasses some the forgotten classic California varieties, like this Chenin Blanc as well as Mataro (Mourvedre) primarily grown on decomposed granite/sand. Tegan gets his grapes from regions and vineyards that have been farmed for many generations, but maybe have remained the outliers of California viticulture, featuring mostly head-trained, dry-farmed and own rooted vines, with vineyard sites that, as he puts it, harken back to California’s roots of exploration, wonder, and hard work.

Tegan, a Napa Valley native, got his start in the wine industry working in winery labs in Napa, but quickly established himself as a talent. For the past eleven years, he has worked for Turley Wine Cellars, working his way up from harvest intern to Winemaker/Vineyard Manager, where his has crafted some of America’s best wines, especially his old vine Zinfandels. Additionally, he has worked in the cellars of Craggy Range in New Zealand with Doug Wisor, with Eben Sadie in the Swartland of South Africa, and with Alain and Maxime Graillot in the Northern Rhone Valley of France, all of which are legends in the wine world. Getting back to this brilliant 2017 Chenin, it’s hard to resist with layers of the mentioned peach, honeyed pear and vivid citrus on the medium bodied palate and the aromatics are exceptional with wet stones, white flowers, clove and apple butter that fold into the background flavors very nicely. The wine opens and expands with air, but still keeping its fresh and crisply dry nature all the way. it is a well judge effort that will drink well for quite awhile, be sure to look for this very reasonably priced white.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 4, 2019

2017 Envinate, Tinto Benje, Vinos Atlanticos, Tenerife, Canary Islands -photo grapelive

2017 Envinate, Tinto Benje, Vinos Atlanticos, Tenerife, Canary Islands.
The 2017 Benje is slightly reduced and smoky with the volcanic soils showing throughout, but it blows off and gives a Burgundy like performance in the glass with a textured medium weight and a bright sense of fruit. Vibrant strawberry, tart cherry, cranberry and sweet and sour raspberry fruits lead the way before a burst of red pepper flakes, chalk and grilled fennel come out in this entertaining red. One of the Envinate’s most easy to find reds is their lovely Benje Tinto, which is sourced from 1,000 meters elevation, high up on the volcano on Tenerife, in Spain’s Canary Islands and is mostly all old-vine, pie franco parcels of Listan Prieto, one of the Mission grapes along with a bit of Tintilla, also known as Graciano in Rioja, these plots named “Masca,” “La Zanja,” “Valle de Arriba,” and “Llano Redondo”, are all located in Santiago del Teide zone. Led here by Envinate’s Roberto Santana, this gang of four friends, which also includes the talented Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez have almost single handedly made this region a hot spot in the wine world and brought huge international fame and respect this place and the native grapes.

Each parcel, for this Benje Tinto is hand-harvested and vinified separately, some in concrete and some in small open tubs/vats all naturally with only indigenous yeasts. According to Santana and team the maceration lasts between 10-30 days depending on the individual parcel with daily punch-downs, then malolactic fermentation is in neutral French barriques, then the Benje Tinto is raised 8 months in the same barrels without batonage (stirring) and without any added SO2, all to achieve purity of form and to express this unique terroir. These Envinate, which translates to Wine Yourself, Canary Island offerings are thrilling and very distinct wines picking up the remoteness and saline notes of this island chain off the coast of north Africa, as well as being influenced by the basalt laced volcanic soils and each hillside micro climate. This 2017 is fresh, savory, spicy and tangy with good acidity, low alcohol plus a light earthy core, it is best to drink with a slight chill and with rustic cuisine to bring out it’s best, it is fun way to get started with Envinate, who’s more serious crus are fabulous and at times mind-blowing!
($32 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 3, 2019

2018 Bedrock Wine Co. Old Vine Rosé Wine “Ode to Lulu” California -photo grapelive

2018 Bedrock Wine Co. Old Vine Rosé Wine “Ode to Lulu” California.
Bright and intensely mineral infused the 2018 Bedrock Ode to Lulu proves again why it’s such a sought after wine with great flavor detail, zesty freshness and a lingering finish, this Rosé is complex and complete in a way that very few others can compete with.
One of California’s great pink wines, Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Wine Co. Ode to Lulu is a tribute to the great Mourvedre Rosé of the iconic Lucie ‘Lulu” Peyraud of Domaine Tempier, the legendary Bandol producer. The 2018 version of Bedrock’s Rosé is composed of 55% old vine Mataro (Mourvedre) and 45% old vine Grenache. Morgan says his Ode to Lulu is a love letter to the Bandol rosé we love so much and especially to the queen of Provence herself. The Lulu Mataro is sourced from the sandy soils and own-rooted vines of Oakley in Contra Costa, along with a dash of 1920s-planted fruit from the famed Pagani Ranch in the Sonoma Valley. Twain-Peterson adds that deliciously feral and wild Mataro element is enlivened by the Grenache which was planted in the 1880’s up in Gibson Ranch in Mendocino’s McDowell Valley. This is a fabulous super pale, but thrillingly flavored and intense Rosé that comes from historic and wonderfully old vine fruit, it maybe the best vintage I’ve had from Bedrock and it is impossible not to be seduced by its charms.

Layered and vibrant the 2018 shows off on the medium bodied palate with a mix of strawberry, grapefruit, sour cherry, rosewater and with a hint of dried herb, with all flavors revolving around it’s steely core and with a touch of stone and earth tones. The fruit really pops with a vivid clarity and makes this Bedrock Rosé great as a quaffable treat on a warm afternoon, but it is also serious stuff that revels in food pairings, and I for one think it goes sensationally with mussels in spicy broth, as well as BBQ and picnic fare. 2018 is a stunning vintage for Rosé in California with great wines just now coming available, especially this one, so be sure to grab some while you can, as it tends to go fast. Morgan Twain-Peterson has really put himself among the elite winemakers in the state, mostly known for his work with Heritage vineyard sites and old vine field blends, including his two main estate holdings, Evangelho in Contra Costa and his famed Bedrock Vineyard, one of California’s most historic Zinfandel sites in Sonoma Valley, originally planted back in 1854. His latest set of releases are fabulous with this Rosé being a stand out along with the Lorenzo’s Heritage Red, a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and 14% Carignan along with tiny amounts of Alicante Bouschet, Cinsault, Peloursin and even a touch of Chateauneuf du Pape’s Vaccarese, coming from the Dry Creek Valley. Don’t miss these and be sure to catch Bedrock’s other Zin based stuff, including their signature Bedrock, and their Syrahs.
($23 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive