2020 Ruth Lewandowski Wines, Rosé Cuvée Zero, California.
The really dark and raw Rosé Cuvée Zero from Evan Lewandowski at Ruth Lewandowski Wines, who is famous for hand crafting some of California’s best examples of natural wines, is not your easy going and frivolous Rosé, and it won’t make into poor side glamor photo shoots with bikini glad wine influencers, and that is really okay, as it is more like a rustic Rosé Lambrusco with a severely dry, tannic and funky personality. Made exclusively from Portuguese varietals with 60% Tinta Roriz, 28% Souzão and 22% Touriga Nacional which saw a bit longer skin maceration and tannin extraction and fermented with all native yeast with zero additions, sans soufre and zero f@ck given! This stuff is a shock at first but gains chard and texture as it opens up, more suited to a campfire and robust cuisine, like thick cut salami and gamey wild boar sausage with an edgy profile of austere red berries, orangey citrus and with a hint country Basque style cider, sanguine notes and dried flowers as well as a lingering tart cherry and sour strawberry element, that all seem to be much more cohesive after a few sips and the food of course. This is not a wine that will conform to the norms and is unapologetic in its animalistic boldness and unfiltered cloudy appearance, but it grew on me and I now have an understanding of its counter culture appeal, especially for those that embrace the funk and don’t what to fall in line with the more generic porch pounders. While this one is not an absolute favorite, I have really enjoyed the latest releases from this winery and especially like the Feints and Boaz reds.

Matthew Rorick farms one of the most compelling sites in all of California, according to winemaker Evan Lewandowski, who gets fruit from the Rorick Heritage Vineyard in Calaveras for this Rosé Cuvée Zero, (it’s) a high altitude site set on super unique soils and steep slopes helps to produce extremely particular fruit. The Tinta Roriz (aka, Tempranillo) grapes from RHV were picked and direct pressed to form the delicate, spicy, snappy strawberry component for Evan’s wine, with the Souzão and Touriga Nacional coming from Mendocino’s Fox Hill Vineyard that is planted, as the winery notes, nearly all to Italian varieties. These tiny Portuguese block is the exception here with the Souzão and Touriga Nacional primarily just used in production of fortified wines, which as Evan reminds us, they do at home in Portugal too, being part of Port wine. He adds that these two are meaty, herbal, tannic and intensely colored varieties, which are intriguing to Lewandowski and add a more savory and earthy dimension to this gripping and almost feral dark pink wine. Lewandowski clearly wasn’t, as he explains, going for a light and easy Rosé, saying It’s not just for porch pounding or deck drinking, it is entirely a different sort of wine, much more serious, a bit savage to be honest with a bit of funk and really benefits from food, it is not your Grandma’s sweet and fruity Lancer or Mateus. By the way, there is no person named Ruth, the name comes from the book of Ruth in the Bible’s old testament and refers to the line that from death there is life and part of Evan’s belief in regenerative and holistic farming along with the life cycles of yeast and bacteria, which is necessary in the natural process of winemaking and the resulting wine.
($25 Est.) 86 Points, grapelive

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