The Kitten is back, and thankfully 2017 gave us more fruit to work with than 2016. This wine was insanely popular last year, but the low yield 2016 vintage gave us only 80 cases and it vanished very quickly. A new vintage and new vineyard has given us 180 cases of the Kitten to spread around! The new source of our syrah is the ‘Alegria’ vineyard of Russian River Valley, one of the oldest vineyards in Sonoma County (with some of the vines dating back to 1890). We harvest the blocks for this wine purely for rosé production. This rosé is not an afterthought in our winery (not a barrel bleed, or the first press of what’s going to be a red wine.) We need the fruit to be bright, lean, and spicy, so we’re in the field to harvest earlier than most. After harvest we crush the fruit and leave the juice in contact with the skins for just 3 hours before we press into stainless steel for fermentation.
We had a very wet winter ’16-’17, which gave much needed moisture to very thirsty vines. No frost, no early or late rains, and a generally mild summer with some moderate heat spikes gave us a perfect vintage for early harvested varietals. Then there was that record breaking heat spike around September 1st that lasted four days before crashing back into very mild temperatures. Many wineries panicked and harvested too early or they mitigated the heat spike with a liberal application of water, which brought down the intensity of the reds. In general I think most California red wines of 2017 will be soft and lean (not a big cabernet lover’s vintage). This actually helped our plan for the syrah: we were able to leave the fruit longer on the vine for increased fruit development while the sugar levels remained low and acidity stayed bright.
There are layers of dark strawberry and cassis flavor in this wine, with a nose of pepper and crushed roses. We love the big texture and black pepper notes inherent in syrah, and have always made our rosé from this varietal. This is a serious rosé, a refreshing but dense wine that will pair well with spicy and exotic dishes.