Drew Stofflet

Drew Stofflet

This week we are getting on into the heart of spring, the climax to a great ski season and the slow beckon of sunny, warm days. Perfect weather to get into more rosé speak.

Kathleen Inman’s new series of site-specific Russian River Valley rosé of pinot noirs was originally created as a 20th anniversary gift to her husband Simon, reminiscent of another sense of place: Provence and the dreamy south of France, where they traveled many years ago. A likely story to which we can all relate to, with the active sensual makeup of wine bringing us far back in time.

In today’s veritable endless sea of rosé floating around the wine-store shelves, pitting domestic wines versus their French compatriots, the Endless Crush is an homage to sense of place. For Inman this harkens back to those pure aromas and flavors that she recalled from that experience in France. It also directly translates to the intimacy she has with her Sonoma County surroundings, in the ancient river’s alluvial plain and rolling hills of the Vine Hill area of the Russian River Valley.

The third-generation Napa native has long been known for making pinot noir (with chardonnay and pinot gris, too) that is expressive, exquisite and – beyond all – sexy. What shines through in her lovingly minimalist small-batch designs is their true sense of place.

These Endless Crush rosés, with all their delicacy and focus, are a beautiful extension of this notion. She likes to call them “intentional” rosés, because they are in no way an afterthought or a byproduct of other winemaking processes. They are meant to be. Beyond that, each of the three Russian River Valley bottlings are single-vineyard sourced and made slightly in their own way. In doing so, she is ushering in a new breed of these specifics in boutique Sonoma County rosés that offer a real sense of terroir.

They are harvested at night to preserve their natural acidity. Gentle destemming, followed by a short soak for a few hours (either the time it takes to heat up the “barbie” and grill some lunch or head to the taqueria for a couple of tacos) and a similarly gentle pressing are the blueprint for the Endless Crush rosés.

Sensitive farming is a mantra for Inman and is at the heart of her “eco-ethics.” Central to this is her estate vineyard, the Olivet Grange Estate (OGV) which she purchased in 2000. The 10.45-acre vineyard is certified sustainable under Sonoma County’s new set of guidelines. She also sources fruit from two vineyards owned and farmed by Jim Pratt, who also practices sustainability under the new guise. Renewable energy, recycled building materials and water consciousness also guide Inman’s micro-scale wine growing and production.

The 2018 Endless Crush Rosé Of Pinot Noir OGV Estate showcases her Olivet Grange Vineyard with high acid and low alcohol. The aromatics strike a pose in this beautifully balanced number. Tingly like a first kiss, full of ripe watermelon, kiwi, star fruit and guava. Two words come to mind: racy and minerally. Provencal yeast strains ensure that original “endless crush” aromatic quality of French reminiscence. In the present, a plate of fish tacos comes to mind.

The 2018 Endless Crush Rosé of Pinot Noir Pratt Vine Hill is not shy. More Provencal yeast and fresh fruit from Jim Pratt’s Sonoma County Certified Sustainable vineyard in the Laguna Ridge neighborhood district of the Russian River Valley. The nose is nectarines and honeysuckle. The fruit is peach, pear and strawberry. Inman craves tuna Nicoise with this.

Last but not least, the 2018 Endless Crush Rosé of Pinot Noir Pratt Sexton Road is another of Jim Pratt’s certified sustainable vineyards, located to the west in the Sebastopol Hills district of the RRV. This wine is a giant bowl of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, firmed up with a plethora of exotic spices. Bring on the salmon and barbecued ribs.

Can your rosé do that?!

That oughta get you amped for some warm weather. Cheers! Remember: Wine reveals truth.

Drew Stofflet lives in Carbondale. Correspond with him at drew.stofflet@gmail.com