2017 Ruth Lewandowski Rosé, Fox Hill Vineyard
Region: Mendocino County, California / Salt Lake City, Utah
Grapes: Touriga Nacional, Souzão
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; direct press; from Fox Hill Vineyard in Mendocino; sandstone rocky soils; full malolactic fermentation; bottled unfined/unfiltered, just 5ppm added SO2; 11.8%ABV
Winemaker: Evan Lewandowski
NEW VINTAGE ALERT: It’s super allocated but we got 4 cases of the 2017! Although made from grapes grown in Mendocino, CA, the Ruth Lewandowski wines hail from the area around Salt Lake City, Utah. Umm, why DRY Utah? He went to college at the University of Utah and fell head over heels for the place. Already a big-time ski bum, he went similarly all-in on wine and vowed to converge his two favorite things. After spending years traveling the globe, including Australia, France, New Zealand, Italy and California, Evan finally returned to Utah to realize his dream. One small glitch – Utah is not the hot bed of natural winemaking (as you might expect), so he had to start by buying fruit from organic vineyards in California and trucking the fermenting juice cross country in a refrigerated U-Haul. He has now planted his own vineyards in Utah, and wine from them is expected soon. So, could Utah be the next wine frontier? He sees great potential (6000+ foot elevations, cool, dry weather enhanced by high rainfall and melting Boulder Mountain snow, and a range of grape-friendly soil types), and also wants to offer a more sustainable option to the region’s endless fields of alfalfa, a plant that strips land of its nutrients and requires 5x more water than vines. And OOOOOH, this rosé – so freaking delicious! It’s made from two Portuguese grapes, Touriga (used to make Port) and Souzão, picked at optimal ripeness, pressed directly, fermented naturally without additions or subtractions. He allows malo to go through – because he says it really wanted to. It’s dark pink, thanks to the thick Touriga skins, which also give a touch of tannin. Texturally it’s white tea-like, and tastes of blood orange, peach and rose petal, with a slight hint of bubble gum. The palate is full, but not heavy, yet bright and snappy with a refreshing 11.8% ABV. It’s a totally different and extremely pleasurable rosé drinking experience. Another American winemaker to watch.