As if a lawyer presenting a case, Anthony Beckman had a file, a compilation of the best rosés produced in the world. With the file in hand the winemaker went to his employers, vintners John and Terry Balletto, to convince them they should aspire to produce an exceptional rosé.
“The folder instantly became unnecessary,” Beckman said. “John and Terry said ‘we think so, too.’ This story pretty much illustrates the blank check they’ve given me to make the best wines possible.”
The blank check, it turns out, was a good investment. Beckman, a self-proclaimed rosé zealot, is behind our wine-of-the-week winner –– the Balletto, 2017 Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir at $20.
The dry rosé has pitch perfect balance, with notes of cherry, guava and mineral. It’s buoyed with bright acidity and finishes crisp.
“I’ve been making rosé for 12 years now,” Beckman said. “All the prior experience is paying off with growing grapes for rosé and making it in the winery.”
The perception of rosé as a patio or poolside drink is inaccurate today, Beckman said.
“Good rosés, made with intention, go well on the dinner table,” he said. “They’re so delicious and so versatile with foods.”
The irresistible quench of rosé is a big part of what made Beckman decide in 2002 to opt out of his career with a San Francisco company that specializes in web design.
“I went from a six-figure salary to making $12 an hour as a harvest intern at Quivira,” he said. “My wife Alissa and I drank rosé from Provence all the time.”
Beckman, 45, graduated from U.C. Davis with a Bachelor’s degree in viticulture and enology in 2006. By January of 2007 the graduate began his tenure with Balletto Vineyards on the outskirts of Santa Rosa.
The winemaker takes pride in the winery’s hidden treasure –– a four-acre baseball field carved in the vines. It was initiated and built in 2002 by the vineyard workers, with the materials supplied by the vintners.
Beckman said one time during harvest he heard the crack of a bat and said, “Man, I should be playing baseball right now rather than punching down this tank.”
The winemaker ultimately decided wine is his forte.
“I’m terrible at baseball,” Beckman said, with a laugh. “They would let me play one inning and then say, ‘that was fun. Now step aside.’ It’s way out of my league.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at email@example.com or 707-521-5310.