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Wine of the week: Saini Vineyards, 2021 Valentina Marie, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Rosé Wine

Tasting Room: Rosés

Saini Vineyards, 2021 Valentina Marie, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Rosé Wine, 13.5%, $25, 4.5 stars. This is a refreshing rosé with a delightful quench of high-toned fruit coupled with bright acidity. It has layered notes of grapefruit, mineral, mango and wild strawberry. An interesting commingling of flavors, this rosé is a blend of grenache, carignane and sangiovese. Balanced, it finishes crisp.

Benovia, 2020 Russian River Valley, Rosé of Pinot Noir, 14.4%, $32, 4.5 stars. This gorgeous rosé is our runner-up, edged out by the less-expensive Saini Vineyards’ wine with the same score. It’s a complex swirl of flavors, including strawberry, watermelon, mineral and a hint of cranberry. Balanced and buoyed by crisp acidity, the Benovia is spot-on.

Alma de Cattleya, 2021 Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir, 11.8%, $22, 4 stars. This lovely rosé has aromas and flavors of rose, tart strawberry and watermelon. Refreshing, with bright acid, it also has great minerality. Pretty.

Foursight, 2020 Anderson Valley Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, 13.6%, $24, 4 stars. This rosé is particularly tasty with notes of rose petal, strawberry, watermelon and cranberry. Riding on crisp acid, this rosé is well-crafted.

Kara Marie, 2021 Dry Creek Valley, the Ra RA Rosé, Rosé of Grenache, 12%, $26, 4 stars. An elegant rosé with an accent on watermelon, with strawberry and mineral playing back up. This lively rosé is balanced and finishes crisp. With its tangy fruit and bright acid, the Kara Marie is top-rate.

Marimar Estate, 2020 Dona Margarita Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, Rosaleda Rosé of Pinot Noir, 13%, $32, 4 stars. The accent is on cherry and watermelon here, with notes of cranberry and a hint of honeysuckle in the mix. Balanced, with crisp acid, this lively rosé is a refreshing sipper. Just lovely.

Editor’s note: Many of the 2020 vintages will be rolling over to the 2021 vintages this spring.

Saini Vineyards’ 2021 rosé is named for Valentina Marie Saini. Born in 2014, she marks the fifth generation of the Saini tribe, and she has a Wine Country pedigree of sorts. Few 7-year-olds can boast they have a namesake rosé.

The Sainis, with roots in Sonoma County that date back to 1908, are behind our wine of the week winner — the Saini Vineyards, 2021 Valentina Marie, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Rosé Wine at $25.

This refreshing rosé has a delightful quench of high-toned fruit coupled with bright acidity. It has layered notes of grapefruit, mineral, mango and wild strawberry. An interesting commingling of flavors, this rosé is a blend of grenache, carignane and sangiovese. It’s balanced, and it finishes crisp.

Winemaker Julia Iantosca joined the Saini Vineyards team in 2018, and she said the style of wine she’s aiming for is a classic Provencal rosé in both style and color.

“All the grapes used in this wine come from either old vine plantings (carignane) or younger plantings of top-level clones (sangiovese and grenache),” Iantosca said. “Because of the grape quality, you get more depth than in many other rosé wines. Also, because the juice is fermented together rather than as separate pieces, I feel the aromatics are enhanced.”

Many people, the winemaker said, don’t understand that rosé is a serious wine made with quality grapes.

“Often people don’t understand that rosé is created using red grapes treated in the fashion of white-wine production,” Iantosca said. “In the case of our rosé, all the grapes are grown on the bench land of Dry Creek Valley, arguably the most ideal of sites in the valley. And many people think of rosé as an unserious wine, but for us it is taken just as seriously as any other we produce. Because the Saini name is on the label, it represents many generations on the land and pride in grape growing.”

In 1908, Valentina’s great-grandfather Michele Saini came to the U.S. from Genova, Italy. When he bought a stake in a Dry Creek Valley ranch, he immediately began planting wine grapes. But this original winemaker was too busy farming to start a label. It wasn’t until 2008 that fourth-generation Mike Saini, along with his partners, bottled the family’s first 100 cases of old vine zinfandel. Today, 14 years later, the family is producing about 1,800 cases with more than 10 bottlings.

Saini Vineyards tasting room opened its doors in June 2019. During the pandemic, there were tastings in the vineyard to separate visitors and give flair to the experience as tasters sipped through a flight.

As for the winning wine in the lineup, the winemaker said she has years of experience making top-quality rosés.

“I love making these wines and helping tasters discover how wonderful they are,” Iantosca said. “Often people say, ‘Oh I don’t like rosé,’ and I say, ‘Try this one.’ They take a sip and say, ‘Wow, I really like that.’ I’m changing impressions one glass at a time.”

Staff writer Peg Melnik can be reached at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

Tasting Room: Rosés

Saini Vineyards, 2021 Valentina Marie, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Rosé Wine, 13.5%, $25, 4.5 stars. This is a refreshing rosé with a delightful quench of high-toned fruit coupled with bright acidity. It has layered notes of grapefruit, mineral, mango and wild strawberry. An interesting commingling of flavors, this rosé is a blend of grenache, carignane and sangiovese. Balanced, it finishes crisp.

Benovia, 2020 Russian River Valley, Rosé of Pinot Noir, 14.4%, $32, 4.5 stars. This gorgeous rosé is our runner-up, edged out by the less-expensive Saini Vineyards’ wine with the same score. It’s a complex swirl of flavors, including strawberry, watermelon, mineral and a hint of cranberry. Balanced and buoyed by crisp acidity, the Benovia is spot-on.

Alma de Cattleya, 2021 Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir, 11.8%, $22, 4 stars. This lovely rosé has aromas and flavors of rose, tart strawberry and watermelon. Refreshing, with bright acid, it also has great minerality. Pretty.

Foursight, 2020 Anderson Valley Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, 13.6%, $24, 4 stars. This rosé is particularly tasty with notes of rose petal, strawberry, watermelon and cranberry. Riding on crisp acid, this rosé is well-crafted.

Kara Marie, 2021 Dry Creek Valley, the Ra RA Rosé, Rosé of Grenache, 12%, $26, 4 stars. An elegant rosé with an accent on watermelon, with strawberry and mineral playing back up. This lively rosé is balanced and finishes crisp. With its tangy fruit and bright acid, the Kara Marie is top-rate.

Marimar Estate, 2020 Dona Margarita Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, Rosaleda Rosé of Pinot Noir, 13%, $32, 4 stars. The accent is on cherry and watermelon here, with notes of cranberry and a hint of honeysuckle in the mix. Balanced, with crisp acid, this lively rosé is a refreshing sipper. Just lovely.

Editor’s note: Many of the 2020 vintages will be rolling over to the 2021 vintages this spring.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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