Wine Legend: Comte de Vogüé, Musigny 1990

Why it made the Decanter hall of fame…

Comte de Vogüé Musigny 1990

Wine Legend: Comte de Vogüé, Musigny 1990, Burgundy, France

Number of bottles produced 15,000

Composition 100% Pinot Noir

Yield 35hl/ha

Alcohol content 13.6%

Release price 311 francs (£39.25 at today’s price)

Current price £714-£790 a bottle

A legend because…

990 capped a trio of fine vintages in Burgundy, and this wine was widely recognised to have been one of the year’s greatest successes, showing a remarkable intensity and purity of fruit. Perfumed and delicate, silky yet imposing, it has always showed a tranquil opulence and perfect poise, as well as extraordinary length. It’s the quintessence of great red Burgundy. The quality of the wine struck tasters forcibly because the 1980s had been a dull patch for the estate, and the 1990 showed it was once again realising the potential of what many consider to be the finest vineyard in all of Burgundy.

Looking back

The magnificent de Vogüé estate, in the hands of the same family since 1450, had been in the doldrums for much of the 1970s and 1980s. The owner, Comte Georges de Vogüé, who died in 1987, had been an absentee landlord for the half-century that the property was in his hands. By the late 1980s it was being run by his daughter, the Baronne de Ladoucette, and her son-in-law, the Comte de Causans, but he died soon after taking up his post.

In the late 1980s there were drastic changes, thanks to a new team. By 1986 a new winemaker had arrived on the scene: François Millet. He was fully aware that the potential of the estate’s great sites was not being realised, and set in place a series of improvements, working closely with the estate manager Jean-Luc Pépin and vineyard manager Eric Bourgogne. Thus only vines over 25 years old were selected for the Musigny, with grapes from younger vines bottled as premier cru Chambolle. The spurt in the wines’ quality provided ample evidence of Millet’s ability, but he was notoriously uncommunicative about his winemaking approach, merely stating that he adapted the vinification and ageing to the nature of each vintage.

The vintage

Like 1989, this was a splendid and very warm year in Burgundy, but in 1990 the flowering was less even than the year before, which reduced the crop. With hindsight it can be claimed that this gave the grapes an additional concentration of flavour. The hot, dry summer thickened the skins, concentrating the juice even further, and giving a good dose of tannin to support the unctuous fruit.

The terroir

The Musigny vineyard is a wonderful, 11ha (hectare) grand cru site, lying just above and to the north of the Château du Clos Vougeot. It is less easy is to define precisely why the Musigny vineyard regularly produces the most exquisite of all grand cru Burgundies. The site slopes gently, its thin topsoil containing a good deal of clay as well as small stones, and there are subtle variations from plot to plot. But excellent terroir on the mid-slopes of the Côte de Nuits is not rare, and yet Musigny is undoubtedly exceptional, if not unique. One Musigny proprietor, Frédéric Mugnier, suggests its character may derive from the even distribution of water in the subsoil. But even he admitted this was just speculation. With more than 7ha in Musigny, de Vogüé owns the lion’€™s share.

The wine

Low yields and old vines are the prerequisite for the de Vogüé Musigny. Harvesting is not especially late, as the team is opposed to any hint of overripeness. Millet favours a lapse of time before fermentation, which takes place with indigenous yeasts in wooden vats, but he sets down no rules. He is no fan of unbridled new oak, and the proportion used in the grand cru wine is generally around one-third.

The reaction

Because of their relative scarcity and the absence of an en primeur market, the top wines of Burgundy don’t generate the same crop of reviews as those of Bordeaux. So published comments of this wine are thin on the ground. Clive Coates MW found nothing to fault: ‘Brilliant nose! Super-concentrated. Very good oak integration. Great intensity. Multi-dimensional. Essence of raspberry… One of the wines of the vintage.’€™ When he tasted it again in 2009, he preferred it to the also highly rated 1993 vintage, adding that he would like to retaste it in five years’€™ time. Some critics have labelled the 1990 ‘Bordeauxesque’€™, to which Millet replies: ‘€˜Only those who tasted from barrel know the true potential of this wine.’

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Wine and charcuterie pairing

With salt, fat and spice, there are plenty of flavours to consider when finding a wine to go with your charcuterie board. We get the experts’ advice…

wine and charcuterie
What wines go best with charcuterie?

Wine and charcuterie pairing

Regional and style matches

‘The first rule for me, is to go for regional matches whenever possible,’ said Yuri Gualeni, restaurant and wine manager at Tratra wine bar and restaurant in London. ‘If I know where the charcuterie is made, then I’ll know a wine.’

‘As with most pairing, we would always look to match lighter flavoured meats to lighter wines,’ said Sean Cannon, managing director of British charcuterie company Cannon & Cannon and Nape wine bar in London.

The 10 rules of food and wine pairing

Watch out for salt and fat

Given the high salt content in cured meats, freshness is key when picking a wine. Salt in food softens the acidity in wine, so choose higher acidity styles.

‘Acidity works well to refresh the palate, as fat and salt together are quite dominant factors in tasting,’ said Cannon.

Acidity also helps to cut through the often fatty cuts used for charcuterie.

‘Fat goes well with acid and citrus. A decent vintage Champagne and smoked lardo are great bedfellows,’ said Cannon.

Gualeni agrees ‘Fatty meats need bubbles and acidity.’

wine and charcuterie

Petit bride saucisson at Tratra. Credit: Tratra London Instagram

Other flavours to consider

‘Think about if it’s very meaty or something more subtle,’ said Gualeni. ‘Whether it’s cured, spiced or herbed too.’

‘German salami, for example,tends to be a bit spicy, so go for something juicy and light bodied, like a Beaujolais.’

You could also match the spiciness with a spicy wine, said Cannon.

‘Highly aromatic meats such as a fennel salami will often pair well with spicy reds such as Northern Italian young red wines.’

What to avoid

‘Nothing like a very grassy Sauvignon Blanc with salami or sauccison,’ said Gualeni.

‘And nothing with too much structure or complexity; Napa Cabernet Sauvignon would be too difficult. It would clash, and you wouldn’t enjoy either of the two.’

Cannon agrees ‘I am yet to find a good match in charcuterie for Bordeaux blends. I think the tannin, wood and darker leathery flavours struggle to be matched by the delicate flavours of charcuterie.’

wine and charcuterie

Mixed platter at Nape London. Credit:

All-rounder wines

‘If you’ve got a whole selection of different styles on your charcuterie board, an Anjou or a light Loire red is a good all-rounder. Also Lambrusco – it’s light, fruity, bubbles,’ said Gualeni.

‘And if you’ve got cheese as well, go for an Italian Amarone or Valpolicella.’

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Barbecue sardines with garlic and lemon – and wines to match

Fresh sardines sizzling on the barbecue are a beautiful sight in summer. We’ve teamed up with Alex Head, founder and chef at Social Pantry, to bring you this delicious recipe, with wine pairing suggestions from the Decanter team.

barbecue sardines, wine match
Try Barbecue sardines with Picpoul de Pinet.

‘Sardines are a brilliant alternative to salmon,’ says Alex Head, of London-based caterer and events organiser Social Pantry. ‘I love them, they’re great on the BBQ and can be easily cooked in the oven if the heavens open.’

That’s less of a risk if you’re reading this in Los Angeles, but a recurring feature of summer in the UK.

How to make barbecue sardines with lemon and garlic 

Recipe by Alex Head

Serves: 2 people

What you’ll need:

  • 6 sardines
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • Malden sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper


  1. To create your marinade, mix the garlic, oil, lemon, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper.
  2. Place the sardines on a shallow tray and cover in the marinade.
  3. Set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Skewer two or three fish onto metal or wooden skewers. Top tip: whilst the fish is marinating, soak wooden skewers in water to avoid scorching during cooking.
  5. Cook the sardines on a high-heat BBQ for 2 – 3 minutes before flipping over. Then cook for a further 3 minutes until cooked through.

Side serving: Enjoy with a fresh green salad and lemon yoghurt

Wines to match with sardines on the barbecue:

sardines with wine

Let the feast begin. Credit: Social Pantry.

  • High acid whites with citrus flavours

  • Avoid heavy reds with big tannins

White wines

Picpoul de Pinet wine

A minerally Albariño, such as those from Rías Baixas in north-west Spain, should match the salt of the fish and the citrus of the lemon, whilst be transparent enough to let the food shine.

A Picpoul de Pinet from Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France should also have the acidity and citrus notes to pair well with this dish.

Both are good alternatives to Sauvignon Blanc, which would be a more classic match.

Red wines

When it comes to red wines, oily fish can react with tannins to leave a metallic taste in the mouth. In other words, leave your vintage Bordeaux and Barossa Shiraz in the cellar for another day.

Try lighter styles of red with decent levels of acidity. Beaujolais or Valpolicella DOC would be good places to start. Try a traditionally lighter Beaujolais Cru like Fleurie. We would even suggest popping some of these reds in the fridge to chill before serving them with your sardines.

Wine pairings by Chris Mercer and James Button. 

Back to’s main barbecue wines page 

About Alex Head and Social Pantry

Alex Head, social pantry

Alex Head is the owner and founder of events and corporate catering company Social Pantry with a café in Battersea, south London, of the same name.

Alex strives to take the fear out of entertaining by placing emphasis on fresh, seasonal and accessible food presented in an elegant, personal way. With all her recipes, Alex encourages social entertaining by showing how easy it is to jump in the kitchen and cook up a feast for a crowd.



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Rioja vs Ribera wine quiz – Test your knowledge

How well do you know these two Spanish fine wine powerhouses? Test your knowledge on Rioja and Ribera del Duero with the quiz.

rioja wine battle
The annual ‚wine battle‘ in Haro, Rioja.

Rioja and the Ribera del Duero are two of the most recognisable names in Spanish wine. They share many similarities as well as a few differences, which make each region’s wines unique and exciting. How much do you know about them?

Scroll down to take our quiz and find out.

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Prosecco doughnuts: The latest wine flavoured trend?

New Yorkers can celebrate National Prosecco Day enjoying Prosecco infused doughnuts.

Prosecco Doughnuts
The Prosecco Doughnuts will be available for World Prosecco Day.

Prosecco doughnuts: The latest wine flavoured trend?

Italian winemaker Ruffino has teamed up with The Doughnut Project to develop the Prosecco flavoured doughnuts, in time for National Prosecco Day later this month.

The Doughnut Project has already produced a series of cocktail flavoured doughnuts, showcasing local bars of New York.

‘We have done many alcohol infused doughnuts in the past,’ said Leslie Polizzotto, the co-owner of The Doughnut Project.

‘Because of our track record, we were approached by Ruffino to do a Prosecco doughnut in honour of National Prosecco Day on 13th August.’

The doughnuts will be on sale in their West Village Morton Street shop from 14 till 20 August, at $4.25. The sweet treat will be decorated with a variety of sprinkles.

This is not the first attempt to bring Prosecco ‘out of the bottle’.

Earlier this year, Pops, a UK based company, introduced alcoholic popsicles with variety of flavours, including Champagne and Prosecco Bellini.

Other wine infused treats include rosé flavoured gummy bears and wine lollipops.

The growth of Prosecco

A recent survey by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) revealed that 97% of the participants between the age of 18 and 24 drank Prosecco. The WSTA’s report showed that sales of sparkling wine last year increased by 12%.

In 2016, UHY Hacker Young, accountancy group, revealed that sales of sparkling wine in the UK had increased 80% over the previous five years.

The consumptions is expected to still grow, a Vinexpo report published in March predicted an increase of nearly 19% to 15.2 million cases by 2020.

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Sparkling wine sales soar in UK

Sparkling wine sales in the UK have grown exponentially in recent years, outpacing Champagne in volume growth, a recent report…

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Taste and buy award-winning wines at Museum Wines this August

Want to taste wines from this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards? Receive great deals and discounts when you visit Museum Wines this August.

Based in a converted barn in Dorset’s Tarrant Valley, importer, wholesaler and retailer Museum Wines boasts a collection of over 300 wines. With a selection of remarkable value wines as well as a range of classics, there’s something for everyone.

Museum Wines, Dorset, stocks over 300 wines

This August they will be promoting eight DWWA winning wines from around the world. The wines on offer include:

Pop into store on  26th August for a free tasting of all eight winners.

Museum Wines will also be giving away complimentary tickets to the first-ever Dorset Wine Festival on orders over £500.


Dorset Wine Festival Logo


Promotional period: 21st August 2017 – 4th September 2017
Address: Museum Wines, No 8 Wine Co, Tarrant Hinton, Dorset DT11 8JX

Click here to subscribe to Decanter from £44.99 and save up to 27%

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‘Lucifer heatwave’ kick-starts early Franciacorta harvest

Hot weather and drought mean that some sparkling wine producers in northern Italy have started harvesting grapes 12 days earlier than normal.  


Producers of Italian sparkling wine Franciacorta, in Lombardy, east of Milan, officially began their 2017 wine harvest on 3 August.

Picking began as the so-called ‘Lucifer heatwave’ became the latest spate of hot weather to arrive in parts of Europe this summer; leading to health warnings for citizens and problems for public services in several countries.

In the vineyards, many areas have reported that vines are ahead of schedule in 2017.

Franciacorta producers do not normally start harvest until after ‘Ferragosto’, a national bank holiday, which falls on 15 August.

‘The extremely high temperatures we’ve been having lately made us start the harvest,’ Mauro Piliu, export director of Castello di Gussago, told

The estate was harvesting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The official regulations of the region dictate that the grape harvest must not begin before 1 August. ‘It seems that recently we’ve been getting closer and closer to that date,’ said Piliu.

It’s been a year of extremes in many of Europe’s vineyards.

Earlier in the year, some areas of Italy, Spain and France experienced early blossom followed by devastating frosts, while others were affected by hailstorms.

Franciacorta is expected to see overall yields down by 30% due to earlier frosts, according to the region’s wine council.

Piliu estimated that, due to the weather conditions, the 2017 production of Castello di Gussago will be 10 percent lower than last year.

Italy’s Coldiretti agricultural lobby said it expected wine production across the country to be 10 percent to 15 percent lower than in 2016.

Italy is not the only country seeing an early start to its wine harvest.

In Spain, Colet winery, just outside Barcelona, has also started picking grapes for sparkling wines.

‘We started on 3 August, which is the record earliest in the history of our vineyard,’ said Irene Mestre Torras from Colet Viticultors. ‘It’s even earlier than in 2015 when the heat forced us to begin on 6 August.’

Similarly to the Italian Franciacorta region, the harvest in Penedes normally begins after 15 August.

Colet started with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Normally there is a time window between the picking of different variety of grapes, but due to the prolonged heat the ripeness of many grapes will coincide and the harvest time for each of their varieties will be about 10 days earlier.

‘Xarel-lo, for example, is usually harvested in September, but this year we believe we will have finished by the end of August,’ said Torrras.

Colet’s production drop is estimated to be at around 15 percent as opposed to 2016.

In France, the agriculture ministry said last month that the vineyard growing season was two weeks ahead of schedule in several areas.

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Vintage wine quiz – Test your knowledge

Do you have a vintage chart pinned to your bedroom wall, and can you spot the key elements needed for a great vintage wine?

Bollinger 1914, vintage champagne
Bollinger 1914 vintage Champagne – famously harvested to the echo of shell bursts in World War One – lying in the house’s new library.

Good producers can make interesting wines in spite of tough vintage conditions.

That said, there’s still something brilliant about a year when everything comes together. Would you know how to spot the characteristics of an aged wine, or the key elements for making a great vintage? What about if you had to buy a birthday wine?

Scroll down to take our quiz and find out.

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The Verdejo grape

In partnership with DO Rueda

And how it tastes….

Verdejo grape
The main grape variety of Rueda DO.

The Verdejo grape

Verdejo is the grape that put the little region of Rueda on the world wine map, where it’s made into some of Spain’s finest white wines.

Its name, relating the Spanish word for green — ‘verde’ — was inspired by its brightly verdant berries. Note: it is not be confused with the similar sounding Verdelho grape from Portugal.

Up until the 1970s, Palomino had been the primary grape of Rueda, and it was made into fortified wines that never reached much national or global acclaim.

But, it was Verdejo that would rise to the fore in subsequent decades. Marqués de Riscal arrived on the scene from Rioja to help spearhead this trend. Working with famed French enologist Émile Peynaud, Marqués de Riscal recognised Rueda’s potential for producing high quality Verdejo wines.

Five things to know about Rueda DO

Soon the duo began cultivating the crisp unoaked white wine style that raised Rueda to Denominación de Origen status in 1980. Since then many other esteemed producers have established reputations for their Rueda Verdejo, and its revival chimed well with the rising popularity of dry and aromatic white wines.

Prior to its rise in Rueda, Verdejo had been a relatively under-appreciated variety.

Verdejo wines were mostly oxidised to produce yellowish brown fortified wines, that often tasted as unremarkable as they looked. Then, in late 19th century it was nearly wiped out by a serious outbreak of Phylloxera, a vine-destroying parasite – although there are still vines in the region that survived this, found in sandy soils of the D.O. especially in the Segovia province but also in other parts of Valladolid.

Great value Rueda wines

What does Verdejo taste like?

A typical young Verdejo wine appears pale greenish yellow in the glass, with flavours to match — fennel, grassy and citrus notes, as well as hints of stone fruits like white peach. Its herby citrus character has much in common with Sauvignon Blanc, and sometimes the two are blended to make aromatic, full-bodied white wines.

You may also see Verdejo blended with Rioja’s green Viura grape, but bear in mind that wines labelled Verdejo must legally contain 85% Verdejo and more balanced blends are usually labelled Rueda instead.

Verdejo is popularly sold to be drunk young, when its green notes are most prominent. However, some do age favourably in the bottle, as its high acidity can provide good structure and rich nutty flavours come to the fore.

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California rosé wine renaissance – and the ones to try

William Kelley delves into the re-making of rosé wine in the US, looking at how styles have changed from the blush of yesteryear and picking out several wines worth drinking.

california rosé wines, william kelley
No need to blush about liking the new wave of California rosé wines.

  • Scroll down to see William Kelley’s top California rosé wines

By now, it’s a familiar story: rosé wine is thriving in the United States. The cloyingly sweet blush wines of yesteryear may have lost market share, but sales of dry rosé have soared to unprecedented heights, enjoying double-digit growth and capturing the imaginations of millennial consumers.

What’s more, the dollar value of rosé sales have grown faster even than sales themselves. In fact, the rosé boom is biggest in the $15-$25 niche, whereas off-dry white Zinfandels still routinely retail for less than $5 per bottle.

Trends like this don’t go unnoticed, and there’s no shortage of new passengers on the rosé bandwagon. Celebrities have gotten on board, most famously Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with their Château Miraval in Provence.

So have powerful players in California: last year, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, which distributes Australian brand [yellow tail], debuted a rosé under their Josh Cellars label; and in March, wine titan Meiomi, recently acquired by Constellation Brands, launched its inaugural offering in the category, a Pinot Noir dominant blend.

Insatiable demand

Insatiable demand is driving supply. ‘We saw rosés from Provence hit the market earlier than ever before this year’, observes Larry Schaffer, who produces a superb Mourvèdre rosé in Santa Barbara under his Tercero label.

‘Even Bandol rosés, usually not slated for release until later in the year, are on the shelves already—which I suspect means that they’ll reach consumers before they’re showing their full potential’.

Indeed, despite retailers’ best efforts, some were already reporting dwindling stocks by the summer solstice.

‘In California, I think consumers are finally coming around to the versatility and pure enjoyment of dry rosé’ – Duncan Roberts, of Arnot-Roberts

What does all this mean for California rosé? It certainly spells success.

‘In California, I think consumers are finally coming around to the versatility and pure enjoyment of dry rosé’, says Duncan Roberts, winemaker and co-proprietor of Arnot-Roberts, a boutique winery in Healdsburg which has been making waves in the rosé world in recent years. ‘In short,’ he concludes, ‘California rosé is doing better than ever’.

As I reported last year, it’s also an especially dynamic genre in the Golden State. Whereas consumers have certain expectations of a California Cabernet, rosé offers more freedom to experiment with out-of-the-way appellations, eclectic grape varieties and different winemaking techniques: the necessity is not so much to ‘impress’ as to refresh. That makes rosé appealing to up-and-coming young winemakers and well-established stalwarts alike.

Continue reading below the wines

William Kelley’s favourite US rosé wines

Click on the wines for the full tasting note and for stockist details, including US stockists.

Decoy, Rosé, California, USA, 2016

A blend of Syrah and Pinot Noir, picked specially for rosé and vinified in stainless steel, the Decoy 2016 is realised in a Provençal…


Bandol influence

The inspirations behind California’s rosé renaissance are various. Many producers look to Provence—and above all to the Bandol rosés of Domaine Tempier. Long championed by influential wine merchant Kermit Lynch and iconic Bay Area restaurants such as Alice Walter’s Chez Panisse and Judy Rodger’s Zuni Café, the Tempier wines have penetrated deeply into the consciousness of northern California winemakers. Morgan Twain Peterson’s Bedrock rosé is even named ‘Ode to Lulu’, in tribute to Lulu Peyraud, centenarian matriarch of the Tempier dynasty.

It’s clear that in just a few brief years rosé winemaking in California has become notably more accomplished

Others, like Jamie Kutch, nod to the more perfumed, tensile rosés of Sancerre and Burgundy, while Hélène Seillan’s crisp Cabernet Franc rosé hints at Chinon or Bourgeuil. Some winemakers, such as Turley Wine Cellars’ Tegan Passalacqua, are reinventing white Zinfandel for the twenty-first century.

And some are simply inspired by the place: Luke Russ, who grew up in Oakville, Napa Valley, discovered an overgrown patch of Pinot Noir in the heart of the famed To Kalon Vineyard. It’s now the source of one of the state’s most singular rosés, produced in minute quantities.

No longer an afterthought

But whatever their inspiration or varietal medium, it’s clear that in just a few brief years rosé winemaking in California has become notably more accomplished. ‘Rosé is actually an incredibly challenging wine to produce’, reflects Jamie Kutch, whose fragrant Pinot Noir rosé is one of the Golden State’s benchmarks: ‘it’s taken us a lot of work to get to where we are now’.

In the past, much California rosé was an afterthought: producers seeking greater concentration in their red wines would bleed off juice before fermentation; and instead of pouring it down the drain, some made rosé—a method known as saignée (though the name takes on different connotations in Champagne).

In balmy California, however, grapes picked for red wine seldom have sufficient acidity or low enough alcohol levels to make great pink wine.

Today, that method seems to be falling out of favour at the best addresses, as more and more winemakers pick grapes specifically for rosé, seeking out vineyard sites that retain high levels of natural acidity.

‘Early in my career I experimented with saignée rosé,’ says Kutch, ‘but I’ve come to think that it’s is a bi-product of wine and not in the same league as making a traditional-style rosé by whole-cluster pressing fruit’.

Anne Fogerty and Camille Gaio, who produce a sophisticatedly textural single vineyard rosé from Syrah, are similarly circumspect: ‘since we make a red from the same vineyard, we use a bit of saignée to complement the fruit we whole-cluster press’, they tell me.

‘It’s less than ten per cent and we ferment it separately—we always do trials before we use it. But it can lend a little bit of structure and depth to the blend’.

Such fastidiousness may seem out of sync with rosé’s modest price tag, but it’s typical of the attention to detail many producers now lavish on this humble drink.

‘We aren’t making it to get rich as you can’t charge very much for such a simple wine’, says Kutch. ‘We’re making it for the love of it and for the love of wine’. That attitude is widely shared; and it’s precisely what makes California’s best rosés so exciting.

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