2021 Lepe Cellars, Rosé of Sangiovese, San Antonio Valley AVA, Monterey County.
One of the first out of the gate in the 2021 vintage is a tasty Rosé of Sangiovese from Miguel Lepe at his personal label Lepe Cellars, it is a bright and mineral focused dry Rosé that bursts from the glass with racy ruby grapefruit, strawberry, sour cherry and hibiscus leading the way with hints of rosewater, saline infused stones and watermelon. This wine is going to be a hit, maybe the best version Lepe has done, it delivers vivid clarity and has the perfect delicate color with mouth-watering natural acidity, all true to Sangiovese’s nature and personality, it reminds me of some of the best Italian Rosatos, but even more vibrant and refreshingly dry. This wine has some fun times ahead, though delicious now, it will provide great companionship to those having sea food, steamed claims and mussels in spicy broth as well as basil based dishes and Ahi tartare. Miguel, who is the assistant winemaker at Wrath and formerly a winemaker at Figge, has gained a strong following for his own wines in recent years and his downtown Carmel by the Sea tasting room is a very comfortable way to explore his wines.

Miguel’s latest lineup is a very pleasing collection of finely crafted wines and he has some even more exciting stuff in the works, like a soon to be release set of Pet-Nat’s, including a Sangiovese sparkler that has been disgorged for clarity, but still has a slightly cloudy strawberry appearance, as well as a Sauvignon Blanc bubbly in a more raw natural form, and he is planning on doing a Gamay next year, so a lot of exciting stuff for Lepe. In the here and now, I really enjoyed the 100% Petit Verdot bottling with its deep color, its spicy menthol, dried flowers and red currant led full bodied palate, and this all stainless Rosé of course. Lepe did a direct press into stainless tank with about two hours of full skins to get that beautiful light pink hue and aged it for only a few months, as mentioned, 100% in stainless, before bottling in December to keep all the energy and vitality here. The grapes come out of the warmer southern section of Monterey County, in the San Antonio AVA, which was established in 2006, though it first saw a planted vineyard as far back as 1771, when the Mission San Antonio de Padua was built, making it one of the oldest growing regions in the state. It sees warm days and a climate similar to the west side of Paso Robles, benefiting from the cooling effects of nearby Lake San Antonio and the Pacific Ocean to give ripeness and balance, which this Rosé shows.
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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