2018 Martha Stoumen, Negroamaro Rosato, Benson Ranch Vineyard, Mendocino County.
There’s a time, when you taste something special, it takes you back to cherished memories and moments that bring unashamed joy of life, touch and smells, this serious and unique Rosé by Martha Stoumen is that kind of wine, inspired by what Martha says was a crisp, but warm Fall day on the rocky Mediterranean coast and made from a rare southern Italian varietal it is a barrel fermented and extended lees aged Rosé that delivers a fascinating complexity and substance, not usually found in pink wines. I would compare this to the glorious wines of Clos Cibonne, the Provence Tibouren based Rosés that are aged on the lees under a layer of Flor, similar to Sherries, but somehow remain intensely fresh, vibrant and mineral driven, which this Negroamaro Rosato 2018 that Martha recently released does, though without Flor, sourced from vines in the Mendocino. The 2018 Stoumen Negroamaro Rosato has a sensational presence in the glass with dusty dry layers of ruby grapefruit or Moro orange, tart cherry, strawberry and pomegranate water along with bitter herbal notes, distilled rose petal, lavender essence all framed by steely cool mineral tones and saline infused wet stone as well as having a graceful roundness of texture that really sets this Rosé apart from almost any other California version, with the exception of Randall Gram’s Reserve Vin Gris that also saw lees aging, though instead of barrel like this one, it was aged in glass carboys. The color is vivid and totally alluring with a stunning bright orange/pink hue that captures the sun and invites sip after sip, though this wine really excels with food, having a good depth and flexibility of flavors, I found it positively well behaved with the pungent, but oh so good, La Tur, the Italian soft stinky cheese and a sourdough baguette on a sunny February day and can easily see it holding up well with steamed mussels, or even more robust cuisine choices. I love La Tur, though usually it can be a bit strong for lighter wines, but was brilliant with this one, it’s a fantastic earthy/tangy cheese made with combination of cow, goat and sheep’s milk.
Martha Stoumen, is a great addition to the modern California wine scene and her talents are as transparently clear as her natural styled wines with her pure and rustically styled collection of southern European (Country) influenced offerings, including her signature Nero d’Avola that pays tribute to her time at the famous COS Winery in Vittoria Sicily, as well as her fabulous Carignan and intriguing low alcohol and whole cluster Zinfandel, to name a few of my favs of hers. Stoumen, based in Sebastopol, has been looking for a way to express herself by searching out old and organic family vineyards to make her wines, which has led her into grower partnerships, like her plots at Benson Ranch with rare or lesser known grapes being a core to her success, along with a studied artisan flare and hard work, with a slight focus on Italian varietals like this Negroamaro. There’s a lot to love in Stoumen’s lineup and she has also teamed up with natural wine specialists Las Jares to make a dark Valdiguie Bubbly, a California Lambrusco or Pet-Nat that is from organic and dry farmed 70 year old vines. For this Negroamaro Rosato, Martha helps farm the grapes at the Benson Ranch in remote Mendocino County, with dry famed 15-year-old vines set on a rocky, gravel and loam plot that sees no pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Stoumen says that the Benson Ranch Negroamaro grapes has such incredible concentration that she ages this wine, not according to its category (Rosé), but by what the fruit in this unique parcel dictates. Adding also very unique for Rosé, that her team barrel fermented and aged this wine, as mentioned above, on the fine lees, after they did a good old fashioned foot treading and an overnight maceration on the stems and skins, which adds to the complex nature of this wine, providing an textural quality and a refreshing minty bite. This wine, is an enthusiast Rosé, worth every penny and great for anytime of year.
($42 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive