[Images from this blog posting come from the Rosa D’Oro website.]

Italian cultivars seem to be finding a natural home in Lake County…

The Pietro Buttitta family is living its dream in Lake County, crafting Italian variety wines. The Rosa D’Oro Vineyard wines are the following:

  • Aglianico
  • Sangiovese Rosato
  • Muscat Canelli
  • Sangiovese
  • Primitivo
  • Barbera
  • Dolcetto
  • Refosco

And, yes, there’s a Chardonnay wine being offered, as well as olive oils, and varietal wine vinegars. It’s a full range of Italian agricultural offerings that please a palate.

My first experience with Lake County and Italian varieties was with Clay Shannon’s Barbera. This wine took a sweepstakes award in the Riverside Wine Competition, and the Shannons knew they were doing something right… So, this begs the question for me, “Is Lake County really well suited to Italian wines?” I’m thinking, “Yes.”

With very little knowledge of Italian cultivars, however, I was able to experiment with the Rosa D’Oro wines.

2007 Muscat Canelli:  pineapple, passion fruit and orange blossom on the nose, bright palate (acidic) passion fruit follows through upfront. Gooseberry and nectarine mid-palate with a pineapple and naval orange finish.

2007 Sangiovese Rosato (a dry Rosé):  raspberry jam aroma, added plums and cherry blossom. More raspberry on the palate, spring cherries, and strawberry pie at the back end of the palate. ~ This wine was my favorite of the three that I tasted, and give it high scores for depth of color, intriguing flavors on my palate, and intense aromas that made me better appreciate the Sangiovese grape. This is my pick of the week!

2007 Primitivo Estate Grown:  cran-orange aromas, added raspberry with sweet vanilla oak, leather and black peppercorn at the close of the nose.  Cherry and Plum on the finish. (Their Primitivo wines are their most awarded wines thought their vintages.)

In many ways, I’m not the best person for knowing how to write about Italian varieties, because I’ve had so little exposure to them; and, those that I have tasted have been crafted in a California style. I’m thinking that these wines are more closely aligned with Italian wines, because their flavor profiles were so unique for me. Most of the proof, therefore, will have to come from others who have also tasted these wines. It was great fun, though, experimenting with wines from out of my comfort zone. And, it’s only fair to tell you that their wines are pretty heavily awarded in wine competitions.

This Italian family has been growing premium wine grapes in California since 1953. As of 1994, they’re growing grapes in Lake County, and enjoying the quiet lifestyle that’s associated with this quiet, scenic AVA. They only produce about 1,400 cases annually, so you’ll have to order through the winery, or purchase at their tasting room in Kelseyville. They also cater to restaurants who support traditional Italian cultivars, so you’ll find them at authentic Italian cuisine restaurants.