2020 Stars & Dust, Rosé of Mourvédre, Kaerskov Vineyard, Los Olivos District, Santa Ynez Valley.
Nikki Pallesen’s, formerly of Liquid Farm, new label Stars & Dust is just launching with a set of Rosé bottlings, one made from 100% Grenache and this one, which is crafted from 100% Mourvédre and done in a dry Bandol inspired style with a serious demeanor and a racy intensity that grabs your attention. Pallesen says of her new project’s first releases, that her Rosé Twins are two distinctly different wines coming from two different Rhone varietals, two different vineyards and two different AVA’s (albeit only 20 minutes away from each other, as she notes), though they are very fraternal and have almost the same delicately pale hue with primary notes and aromas that, she says, are shockingly alike, with any trying or intention to do so in the winemaking. She notes that in her tastings, that the Grenache Rosé has begun to take on its own personality and is getting more open and fruit forward, as you’d expect, and I found the more brooding Rosé of Mourvédre absolutely a thrill in the glass with lovely palate intensity showing blood orange, ruby grapefruit, tart cherry, subtle watermelon, and garden strawberry fruits, loads of mouth watering saline, chalky stones, rosemary, rosewater and a hint of fennel. This Rosé gets better and better with every sip, it is definitely one of my favorites of the year so far and Pallesen has done her usual magic with this one, it is very addictive, as she did with the Liquid Farm Rosé, where it was known in the industry as Pink Crack! As, mentioned here, California is killing it with unique and high quality Rosé and this Stars & Dust joins an impressive set of wines, like those of Bedrock, Arnot-Roberts, Tribute to Grace, Martha Stoumen, Big Basin, Ryme and Filomena to name a few that have really stood out!

The Stars & Dust Rosé of Mourvédre was whole cluster pressed, non saignée and saw a short maceration to achieve the fresh detail and gentle extraction of its light pink color with a cool stainless steel fermentation before an elevage in neutral French oak barrels for six months. There is plenty of ripeness and extract to provide complexity and pleasure here and as this wine turns on the charm with some air time it gains a presence on the palate and impresses texturally as well, while maintaining its natural acidity and steely character. Not quite as full bodied as the famed Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé, this wine clearly is within a whisper of the quality of the famed Provence legend and reminds me a little bit of the famous Clos Ste Magdeleine Cassis Rosé, one of my all time favorite dry pink wines. The Los Olivos District AVA, which was recently formed in 2016, is in the Santa Ynez Valley, mostly formed from an area between the Santa Ynez River, between the Purisima Hills above Solvang and set on on a broad alluvial terrace plain with well drained soils with gravel, Orcutt sandy terraces, clay loams and the locally unique complex of Positas-Ballard-Santa Ynez alluvial deposits. The climate here is heavily influenced by maritime conditions and a long growing season with some warm Summer days helping the Mourvédre, a late ripening grape, flourish here. Pallesen only made 80 cases of her Tierra Alta Vineyard Rosé and just 100 cases of this Kaerskov Vineyard Rosé of Mourvédre in this vintage and considering her success and fanatic following of the Liquid Farm Rosé, I’m sure, these will sell out fast, so I highly recommend getting on her mailing list at Stars & Dust. There are al lot more things expected to come out under the Stars & Dust label over the course of the next year or so with a rumored or hotly anticipated Chardonnay release.
($26 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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