A beefier style of Sangiovese. Smell and taste dark red berry and cherry fruits, dry-aged beefsteak, sun-soaked thyme and tarragon. Smooth tannins and medium acidity contributes to its immediate pleasure at first taste, and still the wine opens up and improves as it breathes. A rocky earthiness, spice and beefy sensations come emerge with air. From an organic vineyard planted and owned by Prima Materia. Neutral oak aged, miniscule sulphur addition, unfined and unfiltered. A fantastic and “honest” Sangiovese. In the words of Prima Materia the wine “reflects our region while respecting its Italian heritage.” A real bargain at $25. […]
California needs more wines like this! Tocai Friulano, aka Friulano in its homeland of Friuli, Italy and Sauvignon Vert in California (unless it’s Muscadelle…yeah, it’s confusing) has about 50 acres planted in California. That number recently went down when THIS vineyard, “Graziano” in Mendocino’s Potter Valley, was converted to Vermentino. Quoting Prima Materia’s Pietro Buttitta, it’s “probably a good idea, but a wistful one as this bottling has great tension and complexity.” This is true. Good Tocia Friulano needs to breathe and stretch. And enjoyed chilled not cold: 60 degrees is good. My Prima Materia Tocai Friulano 2017 tasting notes […]
Blend of 80% Sangiovese (from “Solari Vineyard” in Calistoga), 12% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon (both from Coombsville). Cherry preserves, cocoa and dusty garden herb aromas move on to a rich, warm, fruit-driven flavor. The berry/cherry flavors, dark and sun-ripe, are supported by cinnamon, ruby grapefruit and a crushed rock-like earthiness. Medium to full bodied, velvety and rich. The 601 “Super Tuscan” maintains the integrity of Sangiovese as it gives the wine a little extra oomph with the Merlot and Cabernet. In my customary comparison, dollar for dollar, with Napa Valley Cabernet, I think in that realm it is a very […]
Ripe red cherry nose with a smidgen of cocoa powder and cigar wrapper. The juicy cherry/raspberry flavors jump out. Classic Sangiovese flavors of cola, white pepper and tobacco complement the fruit. Fine, firm tannins, medium acidity on the palate. Finish is long, becoming more lush and rich. Aged in “neutral” French oak, allowing the fruit and vineyard to shine. This is all from “Solari Vineyard” in Calistoga, northern Napa Valley. 601 Cellars is owned and made by husband/wife Brian Doody and Laura Larson. Their focus is on Napa Valley Sangiovese but they “dabble” in other regions (like their Sierra Foothills […]
Dusty, dried cherry, tangy aroma moves to tastes of wild red cherry, cola, beef broth and white pepper. Savory finish, in other words the flavors are more about spice and earth than fruit. Medium/medium light bodied. Bright, tangy and an excellent companion with fatty fish and lean pork dishes. (Brian of 601 says it’s great with Mexican food…I’ll have to try it with pork carnitas.) Writing these notes reminds how “Italian” style this wine is. That was the winery’s goal…well done! The fruit is from “Duarte Vineyard” in El Dorado County, a little up the hill from Auburn. This is […]
Red snappy fruits, dusting of white pepper, crushed thyme leaves and tobacco leaf point to a very Italian-style of Sangiovese. Coming from the heart of Napa Valley, it’s a pleasant surprise. Fine tannins and healthy acidity, this is a food wine through and through. The wine’s 18 months in barrel (all French, small % new) adds structure while staying in the background in flavor. This is delicious outlier of a Napa Valley red wine to be enjoyed with red sauces, pork and chicken sausages and roast pork shoulder with root vegetables. Pestoni Sangiovese is sold exclusively at the winery from the […]
Cortese and Falanghina: two grapes of Italian origin (Cortese in Piedmont-northern Italy, Falanghina in Campania-southern Italy). They are two of the many lesser-known (you could say esoteric) grapes grown at “Lost Slough Vineyard” outside the town of Rio Vista (on Highway 12 west of Lodi). Made to drink young and bright like a lot of California wines…Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc two leaders in this category. The “Delta White” takes a turn from the norm, aiming for an old world, traditional Italian style of less fresh fruit and more rocky/salty smells and flavors. My tasting notes include green apple skins, watermelon […]
A bright, beautiful, perfumed expression of Sangiovese from the high reaches of Mt Veeder District. The wild cherry, raspberry, white pepper, and garden thyme/tarragon smells & flavors are a joy. Medium bodied, medium/high acidity and lightly oaked – appropriate and perfect, in my opinion, for the Sangiovese grape. This rare wine is a great value and well worth seeking out. Contact Bill Hawley, founder/owner/farmer/winemaker do it all guy at Random Ridge. Read his story here.
Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Montepulciano and Cabernet Sauvignon are the “Fab 4” in this Cal-Italian red blend. Very impressive how the four grapes play together. The fruit, aromas and perky acidity of the three Italian grapes each add their unique qualities. The Cabernet adds structure and darkens the wine a bit. Get fresh raspberries, wild strawberries and plums, then peppery spice and dried Mediterranean herbs. Fine, mouth-coating tannins make the Inizi Hi Jump Red match nicely with all cuts of red meat (white meat and fatty fish too). Such a value!
Here’s a strong, tasty, unique blend of Lagrein and Refosco, two grapes of Northeast Italian origin. These grapes come from El Dorado County, Sierra Foothills’ “Lone Pine Vineyard.” Field blend/co-ferment (in other words, the grapes grow together and ferment together). Get a big hit of wild dark red berries with bits of black pepper, black tea and anise. Tons of smells and flavors, then, just before you swallow, a wave of tannins. These are good tannins, ones that will soften with air, with time, and with well seasoned red and white meat dishes. This is an excellent red wine for […]
¾ Pinot Grigio, ¼ Greco (Wine geeks, think Greco di Tufo white wine from Campania, Italy). Massican Gemina is an intense wine, full of palate-tickling acidity and all parts of the lemon (zest, juice, seed, and don’t forget the lemon blossoms!). It’s bright acidity/nervy energy and food-friendly mineral edge is what we’ve come to expect and want from Massican wines. More Information Owner/winemaker Dan Petroski launched Massican with the 2009 vintage (and I’m proud to say I was one of the first retailers to carry it when I owned Back Room Wines). The wines, all white, are made in the […]
Light, bright and intense, “White Study” is a unique, tiny-production wine that Hudson Vineyards makes as much for their own pleasure as to sell. Four grape blend: three Italian varietals Ribolla, Arneis and Friulano and Albariño (Spanish origin) finishing it off at 18% of the blend. Steel tank & neutral oak fermented and briefly aged. Smell and taste lemon zest, citrus blossoms, grapefruit, lemongrass, kiwi and Macintosh apples. High acidity – almost tingles on the tongue. No oak flavor. It’s hard to compare to other wines, but I’ll give it a go…Dry Riesling from a cool, coastal wine region. Fried […]
“Arcanum” is a Dolcetto-based, non-vintage red blend. This dark berry fruit, brooding, earthy/spicy quality is not what you expect from Dolcetto (I wonder what % is Dolcetto? Guessing around 50%.) Smell and taste black figs, blackberries, dry aged beef, pipe tobacco, tea leaves. Ripe core of fruit in the middle with savory flavors all around it. Reminds me of a Southern Italian red: nice and rustic. $21 is a great deal for this wine. More Information Prima Materia’s vineyard is in western Lake County. Volcanic soils, 1500 feet elevation, continental climate (very hot days and cool nights). Not your typical […]
On the denser, fuller-flavored side of Rosé, Sangiovese’s character comes out (from picking a touch later…this is 14.1% alcohol). Smell and taste wild cherry (cherry skins keep coming to mind – a texture thing), red plums, dry Italian herbs, peach pit, pomegranate and a touch of cracked black pepper. While it’s graceful and has the natural acidity of Sangiovese, it has the pleasing ripe qualities and texture that California wine can offer. Be sure to check out all my Rose wines reviewed in 2018 here, and read my Rose Report here.
Noticeably dark, rich color for Barbera. Smells like Barbera: sun-soaked wild thyme, white pepper, raspberry/wild red cherry, plums. Lots of berry flavors with bits of orange zest, that peppery spice and black olive. Where “real” Barbera can get bitter on the finish, not the case here. It’s more cherry and plum skins and dry Provence and Italian herbs. Acid and fine tannins are healthy, giving the wine a firm “punch.” This is one of the best California Barberas I’ve ever had! Edaphos is one of the wines made by Ernest Vineyards. They are quite new – 2014 is their first […]
All Calistoga fruit, which as the hottest AVA of Napa Valley belies the old-world style of this wine. All red fruits here (raspberry sauce, cranberry, wild red cherry) with intriguing savory qualities like beef broth, cremini mushroom, pink grapefruit and pink peppercorns. At 13.3% alcohol, shining acidity and low oak influence, this is easily confused for Tuscany (Italy) Sangiovese. Optimal drinking: 2019-2029. From February 2019 tasting: It’s a lovely wine. Raspberries, wild red cherries, red roses, black tea, bay leaf, new leather and energetic acidity shine bright. Built on a foundation of 13.3% alcohol and not-new French oak aging. I tasted […]
Ripe dark cherry fruits with notes of chocolate, dried green herbs, musk, and smoked tea leaves make this a friendly and crowd-pleasing Sangiovese that is still true to the grape. Fuller-bodied (for Sangiovese) with fine tannins and a rich texture make this a real winner. Prima Materia’s vineyard is in western Lake County. Volcanic soils, 1500 feet elevation, continental climate (very hot days and cool nights). Not your typical winery operation, I culled the paragraph below from its website (check out the site when you have a moment). As you can tell, owner/winemaker (and talented chef) Pietro Buttitta is an […]