2016 Kobza, Rosé of Mourtaou (Cabernet Pfeffer) 100 Year Old Vines, Wirz Vineyard, Cienega Valley, San Benito County.
Coming off the heritage vineyard site Wirz Vineyard in the Cienega Valley, the Kobza Mourtaou Rosé is one of California’s most rare and unique wines, vaguely similar to the Clos Cibonne Tibouren, that legendary Cotes de Provence Rosé that is known for it’s cellaring potential. Ryan Kobza is one of handful of people working with this long forgotten Bordeaux grape from the Gironde, known as Cabernet Pfeffer in California. Mourtaou has been found in some old sites including Ridge Lytton Springs, where it was inter-planted with many rare black grapes, a clone from this site was recently added by Ridge’s David Gates to the historic collection at Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard, as well as Pat Wirz’s San Benito old bush vine vineyard that was originally planted back in 1903, where it looks like Mourtauo was part of first own rooted plantings. This makes the average vine age for Kobza’s Rosé of Mourtauo at approximately 100 years old, pretty unique for a pink, and he treats this wine in an old school way, in a nod to tradition, he foot tread (stomped) the grapes (pigeage) and he let sit overnight before pressing and cold settling for 24 hours, then juice is all natively fermented (with no yeast additions) in neutral (well seasoned) used French puncheons with a touch of malo, but not allowed to finish to keep freshness. The wine is racked once and get a small dose of sulfur, then gets bottled quickly with bottle aging to allow it’s complexity to show upon release, which this 2016 vintage does! The ruby/pink and orange tinted color invites comparisons to a Spanish rosado, it’s a fair bit darker than most Provence inspired or Provence versions of Rosé, but the palate is vivid and dry with lovely round layers that deliver complexity, spice, earth and tangy fruit. Rosé in California is reaching new heights, and this Kobza joins some intriguing efforts in recent years, including Arnot-Roberts Touriga Rosé, Matthiasson, Martha Stoumen’s Rosato of Nero d’Avola, Randall Grahm’s Reserve Cigare Gris (extended aging in glass), Joyce Vineyards Gamay/Grenache Rosé, L’Aventure, Satyre and Theopolis Rosé of Petite Sirah to name a few that buck convention. Kobza’s Moutauo Rosé is still juicy fresh, but has developed a creamy mouth feel and richness of flavor with wild strawberry, candied orange rind, cherry and a touch of plum water along with subtle spices, earth and wet rock with a refined sense of acidity, this is a food wine and a bit rustic by nature, best to enjoy with outdoor meals when this chilled Rosé can refresh and thrill the palate in it’s element, it also has a decent shelf life and it doesn’t seems as mature as you’d expect, enjoy over the next year.
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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