Rare Aleatico Grapes Produce Scintillating Dry Rosé Wine (Perfect to SIP – As in Shelter in Place)
SONOMA (March 31, 2020)—Sam Sebastiani, the third-generation winemaker of the famous Sebastiani family, has announced the release of his 2019 “Eye of the Swan™” Reserve Aleatico Rosé produced under his La Chertosa label. In 1975, Sam and his father August Sebastiani produced the first “Eye of the Swan” rosé wine. The wine was named for its unique copper color that corresponded to the eye color of the black Australian swan in August’s aviary. In the 45 years since that first bottling, rosé wines have grown into an American favorite. Made from the red Aleatico grape, this elegant red-soil-grown blush wine is dry and fruity with the classic rose petal aromas for which the grape is known. Just 116 cases of 750 ml bottles have been produced. Suggested retail is $19. And can be purchased at www.lachertosawines.com
The extremely rare red Aleatico grapes were grown by the Serres Family at their legendary Serres Family Vineyards in Sonoma Valley. In 2019, less than 17 tons of Aleatico grapes from Sonoma Valley were crushed compared to over 47,000 tons of Pinot Noir. The relationship between the Serres and Sebastiani families dates back to their grandfathers and the early days of wine production in the Sonoma Valley. Both men were experienced growers with a passion for quality and were responsible for decades of fine vintages.
Aleatico is an Italian red grape variety, most famously known for producing dessert wines. In Elba, Italy there is a long history of wine making from Aleatico grapes. In fact, it is reported that during his exile, Napoleon said that Aleatico wines were his only consolation. Sam Sebastiani’s La Chertosa “Eye of the Swan” is more than a bottle of wine. It serves as a tribute to one family’s effort to preserve age-old techniques of winemaking. “This new Eye of the Swan is very personal for me,” explained Sam. “It reminds me of spending time with my father, learning about waterfowl and winemaking. Those are happy memories that have served me all my life.”
La Chertosa is named for the magnificent 14th century Renaissance monastery in the Tuscan valley of Farneta, Italy near Lucca where the Sebastiani ancestral roots began. Here Sam’s grandfather Samuele Sebastiani learned from the monks to make wine in the “Old World” style. Samuele came to Sonoma in 1893 and found that Sonoma closely resembled faraway Farneta in three ways; it boasted a mild Mediterranean climate, had the same Mediterranean red soils and was blessed with gently sloping hillsides. He founded Sebastiani Winery in 1904, one of the first wineries in California and employed the time-honored techniques taught him by the winemaking monks in Farneta. The motto of the monks is, “The cross is steady while the world is turning.” He created in Sonoma, the winemaking style Sam continues crafting in La Chertosa wines.
Sam’s father, winemaker August Sebastiani, had a penned, personal collection of North American waterfowl. That is how he came up with “Eye of the Swan” as a name. Parallel to his lifetime as an honored and respected winemaker, Sam Sebastiani has lived a dedicated life as a conservationist, focused on waterfowl. He built his first waterfowl preserve at Viansa Winery in 1990. This 90-acre wetland restoration project was designed and created by Sam and Ducks Unlimited. It was a resounding success and garnered Sam the Private Conservationist of the Year Awards from both the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Center for Private Conservation. He has continued with his conservation efforts, setting aside five acres in his Le Gemelle (The Twins) Vineyard for a wild bird habitat. The Bird Nest contains bird boxes, perches and a water source to encourage bird habitation.
“It may seem a stretch to some,” explains Sebastiani, “but to me winemaking and conservation lead to the same conclusions. Whether it is wine or waterfowl, we must remember that we are stewards of the land and retain respect and reverence for Mother Nature.”