Wine of the Week: Bonterra, 2018 Mendocino County Rosé
Rosé is a bridge wine; it’s extremely versatile and pairs well with foods that one might typically associate with only red or white wines.
This is Jeff Cichocki’s take on this adaptable, rose-colored wine.
“Since rosé is derived from red grape varieties, there are more textures and more fruit than you’d expect from a white wine, though the body and vitality recall the freshness of whites, too,” said the winemaker of Ukiah’s Bonterra Wine.
Cichocki is behind our wine-of-the-week winner - the Bonterra 2018 Mendocino County Rosé at $16.
What makes this rosé a standout is its range at this price point. It has aromas and flavors of wild strawberry, watermelon, pomegranate and a hint of lime.
The rosé is nice and dry, with great balance, and it finishes crisp. It’s a steal for this caliber of rosé.
“This is an intentional rosé, meaning we harvest the grapes specifically for this wine, and look to pick when sugars are relatively low, acids high and freshness at that ideal tipping point between vitality and ripeness,” Cichocki said.
The rosé is Provençal in style, a blend that includes grenache, syrah and mourvèdre.
For the rosé that goes into cans, a small amount of carbon dioxide is added for a bit of spritz.
For the most part, Cichocki said, he’s a hands off winemaker because he wants the grapes to speak for themselves.
“I’m not really too intrusive of a winemaker,” he said. “I let the grapes be what they are and don’t try to leave my mark on the wine. Instead, I try to coax what I can out of the grapes.”
The winemaker said he’s nimble, and that’s what it takes to be an organic farmer.
“I’m adaptable, flexible, and patient,” he said. “Sometimes you have to throw out the playbook and figure things out from a new perspective. Organic farming and winemaking offer fewer tools for adaptability, which is a nice challenge overall. I appreciate the benefits organic farming offers and believe the extra work is more than worth it.”
Cichocki, 50, has a degree in environmental studies from Sonoma State University.
“I didn’t have a traditional academic approach to winemaking,” he said. “I was an environmental planner eager to dig deeper into the local ecology, so I began to transition to winemaking.
“I sought out small local wineries that crafted good wines with an eye toward being good stewards to the environment.”
This steward began his journey as an apprentice in the cellar of Healdsburg’s Mill Creek Winery.
Then he became cellar master at Matanzas Creek Winery in Bennett Valley before stints at Cakebread Cellars in Napa Valley and B.R. Cohn in Sonoma Valley.
He also worked at Jeriko Estate Winery in Hopland, joining Bonterra Organic Vineyards in 2007.
“I’m not afraid to experiment, although there has to be a balance,” Cichocki said. “I think the meeting place between adaptability and experimentation yields some really exciting results and keeps things fresh for me as a winemaker.”
You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at email@example.com or 707-521-5310.