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Wine of the Week: Imagery Estate 2015 Sonoma Valley Aleatico

It’s time to turn and taste the strange. Imagery Estate, in the heart of Sonoma Valley, specializes in making wine from grapes with somewhat unfamiliar names: Ever had a Lagrein, Teroldego, or a Wow Oui? (OK, that last one’s actually a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, and Viognier).

Aleatico, described in the winery’s technical sheet as a highly perfumed red grape from the Muscat family that is popular in Italy, didn’t sound like my kind of wine — having tried some lurid red Moscatos.

So I sat on my sample of Imagery Estate 2015 Sonoma Valley Aleatico Rosé ($27) for a while longer than the rest of my spring rosé samples from 2015 — they’ve already been analyzed and written up and, well, drunken up.

Finally, as one warm evening wound down, I chilled the bottle and sharpened my pencil. And what I’d been missing: redolent of red licorice rope and exotic, deep pink rose flower, the wine does show a bit of that perfumy Muscat flair, but it has been vinified to finish crisp and dry, leaving only a light, lingering strawberry-raspberry flavor to charm the palate.

The blend of aromatic intrigue and thirst-quenching finish is strangely satisfying indeed.

Yields were down dramatically for some grapes in 2015, so if the winery is already sold out of this fascinating dry rosé, give the 2014 Imagery Upper Ridge Riesling ($26) a try.

This is grown in the winery’s high altitude Cloverdale-Pine Mountain estate vineyard and, if you weren’t expecting Riesling to be dry and thirst-quenching, you may be surprised with this. With light overtones of mineral oil and honeycomb over lean lime and lychee fruit flavors, it’s the most successful Riesling I’ve tasted yet from this vineyard.

Find more info about wineries in Sonoma County here.

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