Inman Family Endless Crush Rosé of Pinot Noir 2018, Russian River Valley
W hen Kathleen Inman created the first Endless Crush vintage in 2004, it was a 20th wedding anniversary present to her husband Simon.
She and Simon had fallen in love with rosé while traveling through France, and she wanted something to remind him of the dry rosé wines they had in Provence. That wine was such a hit she has been making it ever since. I hope she never finds a reason to stop making it.
The 2018 vintage was the first time Ms. Inman made three single vineyard versions of her pinot noir rosé, with each version showing how terroir (location and climate) makes a difference.
The response to her rosé has been so positive she had to increase production.
“Each year since I began making the Endless Crush rosé, the requests for the wine begin several months before the release,” said Ms. Inman. “This year, I added two new Endless Crush rosés to the lineup.
“One from the beautiful Pratt Vine Hill vineyard in the Laguna Ridge neighborhood of the Russian River Valley and the other from the venerable Pratt Sexton Road Ranch in the Sebastopol Hill neighborhood. The response has been very positive and the new wines have already received a gold medal and some lovely reviews and high scores!”
The version I tried is from the Olivet Grange Vineyard Estate ($37-39). It is pale pink, with intense aromas of wild strawberry, watermelon, honeysuckle and grapefruit zest. On the palate, there is strawberry, blood orange, and watermelon rind with some minerality.
It is a crisp, refreshing wine that can be sipped by itself, but also pairs well with a wide variety of food. Some rosés are made as a byproduct of red wine with the saignée method that bleeds off some juice early in production to concentrate the red wine. Endless Crush is made intentionally as a rosé separate from the Inman pinot noir. Intentional rosés tend to be more complex and structured because the entire grape cluster is destemmed and pressed within a few hours.
Wine drinkers have been blessed with many outstanding dry rosés in recent years, and this is one of my favorites. It is everything you could ask for, full of fresh fruit and crisp acidity to make for a balanced, enjoyable wine. Ms. Inman has been working tirelessly to get recognition for rosé as the third category, alongside red and white.
“I have always loved rosés, and I particularly love the way rosés taste from my OGV Estate vineyard,” said Ms. Inman. “Making rosés and sparkling wines requires a great deal of precision in the selection of picking dates, particularly if your goal is not to add water or acid to the wines.
“Picking when everything is in absolutely perfect balance requires daily checking…walking and tasting the grapes in the vineyard, to be certain you are choosing the perfect time to harvest.”
The pinot noir grapes come from the organically farmed OGV Estate in the Russian River Valley, long known for producing outstanding pinot noir. They were hand picked at night, destemmed and left for a few hours. (The unofficial measure is how long it takes to go to the taqueria, have two tacos and return to the winery.)
The fruit was then gently pressed on a delicate white wine cycle and the juice was moved to a tank for cold settling. It was then racked and inoculated with a Provencal yeast strain for primary fermentation. It was aged in stainless steel on the lees and then prepared for filtering and bottling. It comes with a twist-off Stelvin closure to make it even more convenient to take on spring and summer picnics.
Winery: Kathleen Inman is a third-generation Napa Valley native, but success in the wine business wasn’t always a part of her long-term plan. She didn’t get interested in wine until attending a tasting seminar in college at UC Santa Barbara. That’s when she started appreciating pinot noir.
A summer job at a small startup winery on the Silverado Trail allowed her to lead tours and perform various jobs in the cellar. But she didn’t really dive into the wine business until after a 15-year stay in England, 1983-98.
She began Inman Family Wines in 2000 with the planting of the Olivet Grange Vineyard, a 10.45 acre parcel that she farms oganically in the heart of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley.
She specializes in pinot noir and pinot gris but also makes a small amount of zinfandel and several sparkling wines. A talented chef, she creates her wines to be food friendly. Since Kathleen’s first small vintage in 2002, she has been an ardent supporter of non-interventionalist winemaking practices, ignoring the riper style and leading the movement towards more subtle, nuanced wines with a sense of place.
Ms. Inman is the winemaker and general manager of the winery and the vineyard, or as she describes her role, “Grapegrower, winemaker, salesperson, accountant, and forklift driver.”
She also is passionate about environmental issues and farms using biodynamic methods. Each year, the winery uses approximately 350 cubic yards of compost to spread under the 9.8 miles of wine rows. More than 140,000 pounds of food scraps are used in the creation of 350 cubic yards of compost, much of which is bought.
They also use worm castings, obtained from Sonoma Valley Worm Farm, to create an easily assimilated bio-fertilizer rich in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Everything is carefully thought out: Permanent cover crops and close vine spacing produce smaller, more flavorful berries. The soil between the rows isn’t tilled, so less fossil fuel is used on tractors and worms are preserved.
Since 2003, Inman has used only organic fungicides. Weeds are controlled by the use of mechanical weeders and mulching with compost to suppress new weed growth. This is supplemented by hand weeding.
The winery tore down an old wooden barn (reusing the timber in the tasting room and other public spaces) and built a more efficient metal building. The new metal winery barn was more environmentally responsible than a wooden building because it is made from recycled automobiles and the walls and roof have a high R insulation value so it is more efficient to keep the building cool.
Everything is recycled, and solar panels were designed to provide 98 percent of electricity needs. So far they are producing more electricity than they use, partly because of all the energy saving features built into the new winery.
Within the winery and offices the goal is zero waste. They even change wine packaging as new products become available to ensure that they are made in the United States, have high recycled content, use soy or water-based inks, and are sustainably manufactured. They also just changed bottles to domestically produced, lighter weight bottles with a higher recycled glass content.
All bottles use Stelvin closures, or twist-off caps, except the sparkling wines.
When she began making her iconic wines, it provided an opportunity for her to meld her passion for pinot noir and what she calls her “eco-ethics” – sensitive farming, natural winemaking, and environmentally responsible business practices.
Goes with: We had this with our second attempt at using our new sous vide device, and we loved the combination. Teri’s sister and brother-in-law gave us the sous vide for Christmas, and both times we have used it the food turned out great.
This time we did boneless pork chops, and they turned out perfectly. After heating the chops in a plastic bag immersed in hot water I seared them in a frying pan, to give the meat a little crust.
That turned out great because the meat was juicy and tender on the inside with a nice crunchy crust on the outside. We added French fries, peas and a salad to make a great midweek meal.
The Endless Crush Rosé was a nice match, with the dry, fruity rosé highlighting the savory pork tastes, especially when I added a little barbecue sauce.
It also would pair well with many cheeses, crusty bread, some charcuterie, roast chicken, chicken soup and ham sandwiches.
If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at firstname.lastname@example.org
Inman Family Endless Crush Rosé of Pinot Noir 2018, Russian River Valley