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Wine of the Week: Lucy 2019 Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County Rosé of Pinot Noir

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This week's blind tasting

Rosé

TOP PICK

Lucy

2019 Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County Rosé of Pinot Noir, 13.9% alcohol, $19. ★★★★½
Delicate in nature, this feminine rosé is buoyed by bright acidity. It’s complex, with notes of watermelon, white peach and nectarine. This rosé also has a streak of wild strawberry in the mix. Finishes crisp. Spot on.

TASTY ALTERNATIVES

Small Vines 2019 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir, 11.8%, $35. ★★★★: Nice and dry, this rosé has bright notes of nectarine and citrus zest. It’s perfectly balanced and has great length. Well crafted.


Eberle, 2019 Paso Robles, Cotes-du-Robles Rosé, 13.9%, $26. ★★★★: This Rhone rosé has tangy fruit and rides on crisp acid. With notes of pink grapefruit and strawberry, it’s sassy yet elegant. It’s a blend of grenache, syrah and viognier. Feisty, yet pretty.

Alma de Cattleya, 2019 Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir, 14.1%, $20. ★★★★: A lovely rosé with aromas and flavors of rose petal, strawberry and mineral. Citrusy finish. Pretty.


Castello Di Amorosa, 2019 Rosato Cresta D’oro Vineyard, 13.7%, $39. ★★★½: A refreshing rosé with great minerality. Notes of rose petal and strawberry. Balanced. Smart.

Farmers may be the best poised to weather the storm of the pandemic. They are, by nature, eternal optimists.

At least that’s how Jeff Pisoni sees it.

“We’re always looking to next year for more rain, a better crop, a stronger market,” said the winemaker whose glass is half filled with rosé these days.

“Right now it’s all about drinking things that are comforting and reassuring,” he said. “A great rosé is like a bright glass of sunshine. And I think we can all use a bright glass of sunshine right now.”

The eternal optimist is behind our wine of the week winner — the Lucy 2019 Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County Rosé of Pinot Noir at $19. Delicate in nature, this feminine rosé is buoyed with bright acidity. It’s complex, with notes of watermelon, white peach and nectarine. The wine also has a streak of wild strawberry in the mix, and it finishes crisp.

“Rosé is very transparent,” said Pisoni, part-owner of Pisoni Family Vineyards in Rohnert Park. “I often feel like you are walking a tightrope, balancing between flawed and exceptional. And this balance can quickly change if you are not paying attention. Things that matter so much in rosé winemaking — harvest decisions, press cycle, lees, oxidation and reduction — are contributing factors in all wines, but for rosé they are very unforgiving.”

Yet a varietal like pinot noir makes exceptional rosé possible, Pisoni said.

“Great pinot noir has such delicate and nuanced flavor profiles,” he said. “It’s famous for this. And that is also why it lends itself well to rosé. You can think of rosé as a variety’s core essence. With pinot noir, this means delicacy, aroma and acidity. These things all contribute for a great rosé.”

Pisoni, 40, began his odyssey with wine at 15. His father, Gary Pisoni, was developing his vineyards and making wine at home. He later enrolled in the enology program at California State University Fresno.

“We were farmers and grape growers, but when I began to see the winemaking process I was fascinated by it,” Pisoni said.

The graduate had a job waiting for him.

“When I took over as full-time winemaker for my family, I was only about 22 years old,” Pisoni said. “I was a bit nervous.I used to check on those barrels a lot.”

What gives him an edge in crafting rosé, the winemaker said, is his ability to sense where to plant what.

“I think because we grew up in wine and farming, it gave us a great sense for interpreting the land and deciding which blocks would be best, say, for pinot noir, chardonnay or rosé,” Pisoni said.

The grapes groomed in the vineyard for the Lucy rosé are eventually bottled for goodwill sipping.

“We donate one dollar of every bottle sold to breast cancer research,” Pisoni explained. “We have done this ever since launching the wine in 2005. So far we’ve raised about $125,000 … We feel that since wine brings people together, it’s important to give back and support the community.”

You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

This week's blind tasting

Rosé

TOP PICK

Lucy

2019 Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County Rosé of Pinot Noir, 13.9% alcohol, $19. ★★★★½
Delicate in nature, this feminine rosé is buoyed by bright acidity. It’s complex, with notes of watermelon, white peach and nectarine. This rosé also has a streak of wild strawberry in the mix. Finishes crisp. Spot on.

TASTY ALTERNATIVES

Small Vines 2019 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir, 11.8%, $35. ★★★★: Nice and dry, this rosé has bright notes of nectarine and citrus zest. It’s perfectly balanced and has great length. Well crafted.


Eberle, 2019 Paso Robles, Cotes-du-Robles Rosé, 13.9%, $26. ★★★★: This Rhone rosé has tangy fruit and rides on crisp acid. With notes of pink grapefruit and strawberry, it’s sassy yet elegant. It’s a blend of grenache, syrah and viognier. Feisty, yet pretty.

Alma de Cattleya, 2019 Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir, 14.1%, $20. ★★★★: A lovely rosé with aromas and flavors of rose petal, strawberry and mineral. Citrusy finish. Pretty.


Castello Di Amorosa, 2019 Rosato Cresta D’oro Vineyard, 13.7%, $39. ★★★½: A refreshing rosé with great minerality. Notes of rose petal and strawberry. Balanced. Smart.

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