A Fix of Realm for the 2020 Vintage

Today’s Story: Realm Cellars

Realm Cellars was founded in 2002 with a focus on producing high-quality, limited production Bordeaux blend and single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Co-Founder Juan Mercado left his role as a hospital administrator in San Francisco to pursue working in the wine industry and, until recently, Realm sourced their fruit from historical, high-quality vineyards (like Dr. Crane, To Kalon, and Farella) rather than growing their own. Though Juan is no longer with Realm, the winery is spearheaded by Managing Partner Scott Becker and their excellent winemaker Benoit Touquette. Michel Rolland consults for the project as well.

One of my favorite aspects of Realm (more a “that’s really cool” kind of thing) is their inspiration from Shakespeare. For example, the title of my blog post on the 2016 The Bard starts the line “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm” from Shakespeare’s Richard II, a line noted on every bottle of Realm wine, on their corks, and highlighted on the label of The Bard. Realm’s Bordeaux blends include The Tempest, named for the violent storm and play thought to be one of Shakespeare’s last; Falstaff, named for the fat, vain, boastful, and cowardly knight present in four of Shakespeare’s plays for comic relief; and of course The Bard, named for Shakespeare himself. Each wine highlights a particular variety, ranging from Merlot to Cabernet Franc to Cabernet Sauvignon, respectively.

As far as their single vineyard wines go, Realm produces Farella (100% Cab), Houyi (100% Cab), Beckstoffer Dr. Crane (95% Cab, 5% Petit Verdot), Beckstoffer To Kalon (100% Cab), Moonracer (Cab dominant blend), and a white wine called Fidelio (Sauvignon Blanc). As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, recently Realm started producing wine from their own fruit which is where Moonracer comes in. This wine comes from their vineyard on Wappo Hill in the Stags Leap District and is named for the Wappo Native Americans who were known for bravery, strength, and athleticism. The Wappos often took part in (and are said to have won most) inter-tribal races during a full moon, hence the name Moonracer.

I previously reviewed the 2016 The Bard, 2013 The Tempest, and 2019 Fidelio Sauvignon Blanc from Realm.

Today’s Wine: 2020 La Fe Rosé

90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; 13.9% ABV

The 2020 La Fe Rosé is pale copper in color. The aromas are of medium (+) intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of watermelon, white raspberry, white cherry, cantaloupe, rose petal, finely crushed stone, and a hint of underbrush. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium (+) intensity and the palate offers up notes of white peach, strawberry, bing cherry, watermelon, rose water, white pepper, stony mineral, and green herbs on the finish. This dry rosé is medium- to full-bodied with medium acidity, high alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $75. This is quite pricey for a rosé, so there are certainly better “values” out there on a dollar-per-dollar basis. Nonetheless this is a delightful bottle of wine and one of few Merlot/Cabernet blended rosés that I truly enjoyed. This maintains a brightness while offering up nice mineral tones in a fairly deep presentation. Perfect to keep up my Realm fix for a very tough vintage.

Note: This is the only wine Realm made in the 2020 vintage, and it’s also their first rosé. Following the 2020 fires in the Napa Valley, Realm’s winemaking team made the decision to not risk producing their Cabernet Sauvignon wines due to risk of smoke taint and loss of fruit. This rosé was carefully made and monitored using very delicate winemaking practices from Farella and Moonracer fruit.

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