2020 Filomena Wine Company, Vermentino, Unti Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County.
The new pale straw and light gold Filomena Vermentino is bright and zingy with loads of meyer lemon, crisp green apple and melon fruits with a touch of citrus blossom, peach pit, snappy herbs, a hint of tropical essences and a lingering lees and butterscotch, which is from the percentage of sweet toasty French oak, making for a dry and medium wine that has enough serious presence in the glass to be excellent with cuisine. One of the most exciting new labels in California is Luke Nio’s Filomena Wine Company, a winery doing some outstanding small lot wines, mainly an awesome Griffin’s Lair Syrah, but also a carbonic style red made from the rare Austrian grape, Saint Lauren, that I love, and now this crisply delicious Vermentino coming off Mick Unti’s estate vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley. Nio, after spending some of his most recent harvests at Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Wine Co now finds himself as a winemaker at the famous Green & Red Vineyards, like Bedrock, known also for tasty Zins, which is located near Pope Valley in Chiles Mill, over the hill from Howell Mountain in the eastern edges of the Napa Valley. This 2020 Filomena Vermentino should pair well with your favorite seafood dishes, in particular I recommend enjoying this one with grilled swordfish, steamed mussels and or octopus, as well as linguine and claims, with food giving this wine a chance to really express itself.

Luke’s version of Vermentino, pays tribute to some of more impressive Tuscan Coast, Corsican and especially the more textural Sardinian examples, it was gently whole-cluster pressed and fermented naturally with indigenous yeasts in a combination of three single vessels, that included one stainless steel barrel, a neutral French oak barrel, and one new French oak barrel. This debut vintage was aged for about 9 months on lees prior to bottling, which provided the clarity and background of richness in this delicious white wine that gains in mouth feel, saline stoniness and definition with air, it comes in at 13.1% ABV, that shows the ripeness of vintage, but still feels balanced with Vermentino’s ability to hold on to fresh natural acidity. Vermentino, also known as Rollé or Favorita in Piedmonte, is an amazingly versatile grape that is found all around the Mediterranean Sea and even plays a minor role in Chateauneuf du Pape, as well as being well suited to warm sites in Paso Robles and here in Dry Creek Valley, where it enjoys lots of sun and the Sonoma volcanic soils. Vermentino has many champions here in California and Oregon, with impressive versions made by Tablas Creek, Troon Vineyards, Ryme Cellars, Chesebro and Unti’s own bottling, to name a few I really like. A few years ago now, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon fame, told me that Vermentino will be an important grape in California, because of the effects of climate change and allows for wineries to source quality white grapes from less expensive warmer and drought effected areas and still made vibrant and complex wines, as this wine shows.
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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