2019 Filomena Wine Company, St. Laurent, Ricci Vineyard, Carneros, Sonoma County.
This has to be one of the best new wines to emerge in the last two years, made from this rare Austrian grape by Luke Nio, who is a winemaker at Morgan Twain-Peterson MW’s Bedrock Wine Company, the Filomena St. Laurent is a ridiculously good red wine with ultra fresh dark fruits, beautiful floral aromatics and some whole bunches vibrancy and lift, this is such tasty medium bodied stuff I can’t imagine not have a few bottles around now, especially this 2019 with its supple tannins and racy black cherry and cranberry fruit along with its bright cinnamon spiciness and mineral tones. This wine drinks like a Corbieres meets Fleurie, but with California ripe purity, though with wonderfully low natural alcohol at just 12.7 % and its fresh carbonic like creamy texture. Nio, now the cellarmaster at Bedrock, has been into wine throughout his life, being brought up near some 100 year old Alicante Bouschet vines in Sonoma and going to UC Davis, he’s been a wine traveller doing harvests in New Zealand, at Hawkes Bay, where he gained a love and insight into cool climate Syrah as well as doing stints throughout Sonoma, including being mentored by Richard Kasmier of Kaz Winery, who was doing natural wines before it was cool to do so, all of which has paid off now he has his own micro label and hand crafting his delicious Filomena offerings. I loved last year’s version of this St. Laurent too, but this year’s edition has cemented my thoughts and I could smash through a few cases of this very easily! The nose of this purple/garnet St. Laurent gives an array of peony and violets as well as crushed brambly blackberries with these echoing throughout and lingering on the dry finish, the light dusting of pepper, hints of anise and loam add complexity to this delightfully fun wine.
The St. Laurent grape, extremely rare here in California with only a few acres planted, has roots in Austria, but is also found in Germany and in the Czech Republic, it is a highly aromatic dark-skinned variety that has a slightly earthy almost Cabernet Franc like profile at home, Its origins are still uncertain though it is widely believed to be a crossing of Pinot Noir and so far an unknown second parent (grape). In Austria, St. Laurent is the third most popular red grape variety after Blaufrankisch and Zweigelt and is primarily grown in Lower Austria and Burgenland, while in Germany, where it is known as Sankt Laurent, it is extremely rare as a single varietal wine and is commonly used as a blender and or in Rosé. Also, St. Laurent was crossed with Blaufrankisch to create Zweigelt, which has gone on to become much more popular than its parent, though St. Laurent has been making a comeback with a few serious versions turning some heads, like Vincent Brundlmayer’s (Weingut Brundlmayer) excellent example. Luke has really made St. Laurent his own, it was fermented with about a third whole cluster, using native yeasts with a semi carbonic primary in tank before a gentle foot trod and a a pressing at dryness, after which the wine was racked to a combination of stainless barrels and large French 400L puncheons. The St. Laurent was raised for nine months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered without any additions or as Nio says, no shenanigans, with ultra low sulfites to preserve all of the wine’s natural flavors and freshness. Filomena does three wines, this awesome, value priced St. Laurent, and an intense and powerful cool climate Griffin’s Lair Syrah, which is aged five years before release, plus a brand new Rosé of Cabernet Pfeffer from the Enz Vineyard, made famous in recent years by Ian Brand and Dirty and Rowdy with their Mourvedre(s), all of which are very limited and exciting efforts not to be missed.
($24 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive