2020 Filomena Wine Company, Cabernet Pfeffer Rosé, Enz Vineyard, Lime Kiln Valley, San Benito County.
Rosé in California has officially reached the next level with many absolutely delicious and outstanding versions out there with the 2018s, 2019s and these new 2020s providing perfect conditions for some amazing dry pink wines, with some unique and rare varietals coming into play, like this fabulous Filomena Rosé made from a California rarity, Cabernet Pfeffer grown in the wilds of San Benito County at the Enz Vineyard in the Lime Kiln Valley AVA. The 2020 Filomena Cabernet Pfeffer Rosé, handcrafted by Luke Nio, who is a winemaker at Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Wine Company, is bright and minerally crisp with excellent acidity and zesty fruit layers showing tart plum water, cherry, currant, pink citrus and salty wet stone, along with a touch of dried lavender, Asian spice and extremely delicate floral notes. Cabernet Pfeffer, also known as Mourtou, is a distinct varietal that was a late 19th-century crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and an unknown vitis vinifera vine and was often confused with Gros Verdot, though it is now known to be an unrelated grape and Pfeffer is almost entirely found on the central coast, though a few vines are in some heritage vineyards in the Sonoma and Napa valleys. In the past I’ve had a few examples of Cabernet Pfeffer, like Nicole Walsh’s (winemaker at Bonny Doon) Ser and Ryan Kobza’s (assistant winemaker at I. Brand & Family Winery) Kobza Wines, who does it as both a Rosé and as a red wine, but Nio’s effort really is an eye opener.

Filomena Wine Company is a new and exciting label with a tiny production with a focus on Syrah, along with one of my new favorite wines made from the rare Austrian varietal Saint Laurent, which I have reviewed here at grapelive.com and this Rosé, which is an all new wine for Nio. Sourced from the Enz Vineyard, most famous for old vine Mourvedre that was planted back in the early 1900s, the Filomena Cabernet Pfeffer comes from this historic site that sits about a 1,000 ft above sea level, it is an all organic and dry farmed vineyard in the Gabilan Range that is set on limestone. Rio brought these grapes in nice and cool from a night time pick and he did a gentle foot-trod, allowing for skin contact to last overnight. Then the Cabernet Pfeffer was whole cluster pressed to stainless steel where is saw an indigenous yeast fermentation and a short lees aging. The results are as impressive and they are refreshingly tasty, putting this Cabernet Pfeffer dry Rosé into the same league as some of my must have examples, right up there with Arnot-Roberts Touriga Nacional Rosé and the Bedrock Ode to Lulu, the Mourvedre based pink that is a Bandol style Rosé and tribute to the matriarch of Domaine Tempier. As mentioned California is doing some thrilling Rosé wines, as good as anything from anywhere, from Tablas Creek’s fine examples made from Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault and other Rhone varietals, Angela Osborne’s Tribute to Grace Grenache Rosé to Martha Stoumen’s Italian inspired versions that include an extended lees aged Negroamaro and her vivid Rosé of Nero d’Avola, to name a couple. This latest set from Filomena are star quality offerings and I highly recommend getting on Nio’s mailing list and grab these wines, his Griffin’s Lair Syrah is top notch northern Rhone style wine too, do not miss these.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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