The folks at Bernardus have access to three plots – small ones – of Gary Franscioni’s ranch in the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Holy Terroir

Why this matters has something to do with Franscioni, who is well-known for tending grapes, but a lot more to do with terroir. That soil, the area’s weather and Pinot Noir seem to find things in common. So when you swirl a glass of Bernardus’ 2016 Rosella’s Pinot Noir, it is as if you are eating fresh cherries – in the orchard, surrounded by rose bushes in bloom. It’s that vivid.

Bright cherries burst from the wine again when sipped, but this time tugged by the tart, jammy weight of dried cranberries. The fruit embraces your palate and never relents, even as notions of holiday spice and toasted wood vie for your attention. An earthy, funky savor deepens the finish, but never hinders the cheerful fruits.

Winemaker Dean DeKorth and his team ferment in small batches and age wine from each plot separately in French oak before bringing it all together for bottling. It’s a careful approach that yields a pretty wine – vibrant and floral.

BERNADUS 5 W. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. 298-8021,

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