2020 Martha Stoumen, Nero d’Avola Rosato, Benson Ranch, Mendocino County.
The latest Nero d’Avola Rosato by Martha Stoumen is crisply dry Rosé that is a heavenly refresher and its bright tanginess is a welcome relieve to these warm if not hot days and it has plenty of extract and substance to go with food as well. There is a glow to this vivid pink wine that is utterly compelling and inviting and steely palate unfolds with sharp details with zesty ruby citrus, wild unripe peach, cherry and strawberry fruits, a nice crunch of herbs, a touch of rosewater, spice notes, and salty wet rocks. Nero d’Avola, the classic Sicilian grape of the Vittoria region, where it is made as a solo varietal DOC wine, as well as being traditionally blended with Frappato. For her Nero d’Avola Rosato, Martha uses 100% whole clusters (stems intact) that see a foot tread and loaded into the press to macerate overnight before being pressed in the morning, allowing the extract of phenolics and pigment. The juice then is fermented naturally and aged in neutral tanks for 6 months, before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. This wine got better and better with every sip, and with the air and the warming the Rosato gained a presence and mouth feel in the glass, it met all my expectations and then some with juicy watermelon and tart rhubarb/cranapple adding an interest and playful side. There is a lot to love in the current set of Martha’s wines, with her Zinfandel, Carignane and signature Nero d’Avola red, being some of my favorites along with the Rosé bottlings and her new Vermentino.

Martha calls this wine her Vino di una notte… This, she says, translates to ‘one night wine’ and refers to the technique of crushing grapes and leaving them to macerate on skins (and in her case, with the stems as well) in their own juice overnight, adding color, texture, and complexity. Stoumen adds that she loves using this technique with the Nero d’Avola because it produces a wine that falls between rosé and a red wine, as she continues, it is zippy and bright like a rosé but textured and robust like a red wine. Stoumen racked the pressed juice off lees before fermentation began and then once again toward the end of fermentation, but there is still a touch of natural sediment in the bottle, which shouldn’t bother any fans of quality unfiltered wines. The farming at Benson Ranch also adds to the complexity of this wine, with all Dry farmed vines that are set on well drained gravelly loam soils, making for grape berries that are small due to water scarcity and have a higher skin to juice ratio, adding that intensity that shines in this Rasato. The Benson Ranch is located in Ukiah, Mendocino County on gentle hillsides and Stoumen sources her Nero d’Avola from these 14-year-old head trained, that are as mentioned, dry farmed and to organic principles, meaning everything is done without the use of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fungicides. Stoumen does make this wine every vintage, so when she does it is a rare and delicious treat, so I recommend not waiting around, this and her lees aged Nergoamaro Rosato are two of the most exciting Rosé offerings out there, don’t miss either, especially this one!
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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