Wine of the Week: Bonterra, 2018 Mendocino County Rosé

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THIS WEEK'S BLIND TASTING

Rosé

TOP PICK

Bonterra

2018 Mendocino County Rosé, 13% alcohol, $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. This rosé is nice and dry with great balance and it finishes crisp. It’s a steal for this caliber of rosé.

TASTY ALTERNATIVES

Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare, 2018 Central Coast Rosé, 13.5%, $18. ★★★★: This is a tangy rosé with notes of high-toned Granny Smith apple, cranberry and tangerine. In the mix there’s also watermelon and strawberry — all riding on a breezy minerality. Lovely.

Martin Ray, 2018 Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir, 13.2%, $28. ★★★½: A striking rosé with crisp stone fruit — nectarine and white peach. Ruby red grapefruit sweetens the rosé just a touch, but it’s kept in check with bright acid. Nice length. Impressive.

Tiny House Vineyard, 2018 Sonoma Coast, Rosé of Pinotage, 12.8%, $24. ★★★★: A pretty rosé buoyed with crisp acidity. It has aromas and flavors of stone fruit and watermelon coupled with great minerality. Spot on.

Heitz Cellars, 2018 Crignolino, St. Helena, Napa Valley Rosé, $30. ★★★★: A vibrant rosé with a juicy texture. Grignolino is a little known Italian grape varietal, and this rosé is particularly zesty. It’s edgy, with flavors of grapefruit and orange zest tempered by notes of peach and strawberry. Smart.

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 peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

THIS WEEK'S BLIND TASTING

Rosé

TOP PICK

Bonterra

2018 Mendocino County Rosé, 13% alcohol, $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. This rosé is nice and dry with great balance and it finishes crisp. It’s a steal for this caliber of rosé.

TASTY ALTERNATIVES

Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare, 2018 Central Coast Rosé, 13.5%, $18. ★★★★: This is a tangy rosé with notes of high-toned Granny Smith apple, cranberry and tangerine. In the mix there’s also watermelon and strawberry — all riding on a breezy minerality. Lovely.

Martin Ray, 2018 Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir, 13.2%, $28. ★★★½: A striking rosé with crisp stone fruit — nectarine and white peach. Ruby red grapefruit sweetens the rosé just a touch, but it’s kept in check with bright acid. Nice length. Impressive.

Tiny House Vineyard, 2018 Sonoma Coast, Rosé of Pinotage, 12.8%, $24. ★★★★: A pretty rosé buoyed with crisp acidity. It has aromas and flavors of stone fruit and watermelon coupled with great minerality. Spot on.

Heitz Cellars, 2018 Crignolino, St. Helena, Napa Valley Rosé, $30. ★★★★: A vibrant rosé with a juicy texture. Grignolino is a little known Italian grape varietal, and this rosé is particularly zesty. It’s edgy, with flavors of grapefruit and orange zest tempered by notes of peach and strawberry. Smart.

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