Nero d'Avola Rosato 2017
100% Nero d'Avola
Clusters were hand harvested, foot tread and left on the stems and skins overnight. Fruit was pressed the next day and put into a neutral tank. Both primary and malolactic fermentation occurred naturally. Wine will be racked just prior to bottling. This wine got a 4ppm addition of SO2 prior to bottling.
Benson Ranch is on a west-facing gentile slope. The lower portion of the slope where the Nero d’Avola is planted is on Pennobie loam. Although deep, these somewhat acidic soils limit nutrient uptake. Combine this with a dry farmed (not irrigated) vine and we get low yields (2 tons per acre) but wonderful concentration and acidity both. Pennobie loam also doesn’t have a clay layer like many of the soils in the area do, so we get very well drained soils, making the vines dig deep into mineral layers for water.
These head trained dry-farmed vines rely on a deep root structure to access water from May to November, when we have no rain in CA. Head trained, or bush vines, are not trellised, meaning we can cross-cultivate (drive the tractor in both directions—up rows and across rows), limiting soil compaction. We only apply elemental sulfur dust to combat mildew (never copper, even though copper is considered organic) a few times per year, by foot with a backpack duster (further limiting soil compaction). We never use herbicides or pesticides in any form, and like to encourage as much microbial life in the soil as possible.
In 2017 we had a two-week heat wave during harvest, with temperatures between 100 and 110 F. At these temperatures the vines’ metabolism slows to a near halt, meaning acidity in the grapes stays put. We already have great acidity from this grape and site, and this year these grapes were begging to be made into a rosé— or, to be specific—a rosato.
This zippy, gulpable and thirst-quenching rosato comes from a small portion of Benson Ranch fruit, and is darker than a typical pale pink rosé but lighter than a red wine. The unique color (and more robust flavor) is a result of leaving the foot-tread grapes overnight before being pressed, a method that Italians refer to as Vino di Una Notte, or ‘one night wine’. This rosato is both full of flavor (concentrated fruit from dry farmed vines) and brightness. You’ll taste strawberry, sour cherry, and a touch of celery-like salinity on the way to a nice long finish. One of my favorite new experiments in 2017—I’ll be making this wine again!
After working for COS in Sicily, Martha made it her mission to find Nero d'Avola in California. Not only did she find one of the few vineyards that exist in the States, but she took over the lease and farming responsibilities of Benson Ranch in 2015. Now in her 3rd year of farming this site, Martha gets to work in a low intervention manner in the vineyard as well as the cellar.
Production: 120 cases