2018 Roar, Pinot Noir, Rosella’s Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
The Rosella’s Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands, planted back in 1996 on a cool site with classic Arroyo Seco sandy Loams, is one of the Grand Crus of the region and the Franscioni family, fourth generation growers produce some of Monterey’s best wines under their Roar label, which they started with the 2000 vintage. Gary and Rosella, along with their sons Adam and Nick Franscioni have produced a fabulous set of wines in the 2018 vintage, especially this gorgeous Rosella’s Pinot Noir, which was a selection of the best barrels from their estate and home vineyard, it is wonderfully aromatic and dances on the palate with a ballerina’s sense of grace and form making it one of the best versions of Roar’s signature bottling I’ve tasted. I have followed the Roar wines since the beginning and have had almost every offering, so I have a great palate reference to these wines and this latest Rosella’s is one of my favorites with its vibrancy, depth, texture and length all being incredible here. There is a sense of density and opulence that will satisfy the returning fans of this wine, but I love the delicacy and energy in this edition that highlights the greatness of the vintage, which was long and cool, giving the wines lots of ripe flavors without heaviness or overt alcohol, this is going to be a legendary year for the Santa Lucia Highlands. This Rosella’s has a beautiful dark ruby hue, a mix of rose petals and dried violets making it seductive, luxurious and inviting for Pinot lovers and it will need something a little more special in the form of cuisine to match it, maybe duck breast with a huckleberry reduction?
The 2018 Roar Rosella’s starts with its heavenly floral perfume, red fruits and subtle smoky sweet toastiness that leads to a medium full bodied palate of black cherry, plum, vine picked raspberry and a touch of tangy blueberry fruit along with bramble and briar spice, rose hip tea, vanilla and a faint elegant earthiness. Roar craft just tiny amounts of wine with a focus on Pinot Noir, though they also do Chardonnay as well as Syrah and even a micro batch of Viognier with Nick and consulting winemaker Scott Shapely leading the efforts in the cellar. Rosella’s is planted to a mix of Pinot clones and is traditionally fermented with all hand sorted and mostly de-stemmed grapes, after maceration, pilage and primary (fermentation) the wine is gently pressed to 100% French oak for aging, with about 50% new barriques employed from a variety of coopers including Cadus, Ermitage, Francois Freres, Latour, Remond and Seguin Moreau. The Franscioni’s love the expressive nature and character of the fruit and never shy away from the deep and dark flavors that come from their vines, these are hedonistic, alluring and showy wines that deliver on their promise in the glass with impressive confidence, this vintage is totally irresistible! These days, the Roar wines are hard to find, it is best to get on their mailing list and the 2018 Pinots are going to go fast, so keep your eyes out. The 2016 and 2017 vintages produced a mixed bag of Santa Lucia Highlands wines and made the growers pull their hair out, but these 2018’s are the rewards of their hard work and commitment, with this Rosella’s, which will only get better and better over the next 5 to 10 years in bottle, being a stunning example.
($62 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive