6 bottles of 2020 Gros Ventre Vermentino
In 2013, The Chronicle named Chris Pittenger a winemaker to watch. In 2021, we're naming Vermentino the grape to watch, and Pittenger our preferred source of it. And while Vermentino is most commonly associated with the sun-drenched, sea-kissed shores of Sardinia, Pittenger is A Very Smart Wine Guy™ (when he's not moonlighting as a champion of cool-climate, new California winemaking, he's working a day job at classic-as-they-come Limerick Lane in the Russian River), and as such, recognized the potential in the elevation and soils of El Dorado, peppered with pink granite and decomposed schist. At nearly 2600ft above sea level, the grapes here are slow ripening, developing a nervy, racy acidity, and allowing generous white-petal aromatics and stone fruit to develop on the palate. A wisp of smoke and salt, and a welcome hit of citrus zest follow on the finish, mouthwatering and dizzyingly complex. Gleeful, gluggable, as good as it gets.