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2006 Caparone Aglianico

This wine is made from 100% estate Aglianico fruit planted in Paso Robles by father and son Dave and Marc Caparone. This planting has the distinction of being the first North American planting of the variety. This wine is bottled unfiltered and unfined after spending 24 months in small oak barrels. This Aglianico opened with big leather, but not clearly barn-like aromas (perhaps a mix of Brett and long oak exposure?). Floral notes and faint jammy berry aromas followed. In the mouth, this medium-bodied wine was kaleidoscope of berries, leather and oak. The mouthfeel was plush, rich and round with good acids and notably dusty and grippy tannins. This led into a drying finish with some heat and faint fruit dominated by leather. Overnight, bretty aromas seemed to become more sharply defined and were accompanied by some light blackberry. In the mouth, vague berry flavors were accompanied by a horseblanket-like character. The structure kept its form with dusty textures, good acids and some heat. The finish was rather drying but juicy and then hot on the second day. The astringency was tamed by both brisket and BBQ ribs. (13% ABV, 2 bottles tasted, production volume unknown).
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2006 Musto Carmelitano Serra del Prete Aglianico

2006 Musto Carmelitano, Serra del Prete Aglianico started with big, black licorice with a pruney/peppery note up front. Blue and black berry aromas followed but did not last well into the next day. Medium-bodied, with light licorice flavors on supple, finer but quite drying tannins and rather unobtrusive acids. The medium-length finish had two phases: First, it is a bit pruney, the most grippy of all Aglianicos in the line up. Blackberries dominated on the reprise. On the second day, licorice and prune, blueberry pie notes made up the aromas. The wine remained medium-bodied, drying and very grippy. Initially drying, the finish ended juicy with blackberry-like, plumy fruit in the second phase This wine worked better with brisket than with BBQ ribs. (100% Aglianico del Vulture. No oak. 14% ABV. 2 bottles tasted).
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2009 Wargin Solano County Red

A blend of 50% Montepulciano, 25% Aglianico and 25% Sangiovese, the first two from Suisun Valley. Mikael Wargin fermented the three varieties as separate lots using different yeast strains. He then blended and aged them a total of 8 months in 20% new Hungarian oak. This wine opened with aromas of pepper and jammy briary red fruit. Initially present dill dissipated fairly quickly. In the mouth, cherry flavors were backed by hibiscus and oak notes. Supple smooth tannins, good acids, punctuated this well-balanced upper medium-bodied wine. The finish offered briary fruit and some heat. On the second day, the wine settled into aromas of black cherry, licorice notes and hints of hibiscus. Cherry flavors and hibiscus and oak notes persisted unchanged. A plush texture, supple, slight, dusty but finely grained, tannins led into a slightly drying finish focused around cherry and ending in some warmth. This wine was a pleasant companion to the mushroom pizza and went surprisingly well with the blackened salmon. (15% ABV, 2 bottles tasted, production volume unavailable)
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2007 Mahoney Vineyards Montepulciano

Grown in Carneros and blended with about 10% Sangiovese, started with aromas of pepper, a mélange of oak and dill with briary, jammy fruit. Lighter in the mouth, the flavors were dominated by oak. The wine finished with light red fruit and some heat. On the second day, the wine fleshed out and displayed spicy, licorice notes above all. In the mouth, black cherry flavors were most distinct. Medium bodied the wine had good acids and supple, fine, slightly drying tannins. It was an unobtrusive food companion and did not compete with the mushroom pizza or the blackened salmon. (13.7% ABV, 2 bottles tasted, production volume unavailable)
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2007 Domenico Montepulciano

This Central Valley Montepulciano with a small amount of Petite Sirah or Merlot—depending on the year—is whole cluster fermented in open top fermenters with frequent punchdowns and extended maceration. It offers aromas of macerated ripe strawberry with piney, dill notes and maple leaf hints. In the mouth, it is lighter bodied, sleek, with slight tannins, a silky texture and jolly rancher-like strawberry candy flavors. The finish is creamy, but a bit hollow. Overnight, it takes on dried rose petal and vague cherry aromas and floral hints in the mouth. This forward, mature-styled wine is an unobtrusive food companion with good acids and does not compete with food flavors. (14% ABV, 1 bottle tasted, 256 cases made)
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2008 Witch Creek Montepulciano

The 2008 Witch Creek Montepulciano was more ungainly. Aromas of dill, at first, were followed by briary, vaguely herbal notes. In the mouth, brine dominated with meaty flavors coming before light strawberry. Structurally, this wine was light, creamy and thinner than the ’07. Strawberry persisted into the finish. On the second day, aromas of wild sage became more defined and were accompanied by a distinct salty aroma. In the mouth, it was much brinier than the 07, with light black fruit and an almost peppery character. Overnight, this wine medium-boded wine had become fuller, smooth and unique in its saltiness. Game, blackberry and brininess lingered on the finish. This wine definitely overpowered the pizza, needing pure, rare red protein. It overpowered the blackened salmon. (13.3% ABV, 1 bottle tasted, 150 case made)
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2007 Witch Creek Montepulciano

The 2007 Witch Creek Montepulciano offered ripe, fleshy strawberry aromas, a piney note, and a hint of dill. In the mouth, it was savory, gamey and briny with strawberry flavors playing a well-placed second fiddle. It was lush, rich and full bodied with supple tannins. The finish was drying and meaty with strawberry and some heat (14.3 % ABV). Overnight its aromas exhibited light cured game, fleshy strawberry and a hint of wild herbs (dill?). In the mouth, slight game was accompanied by fleshy strawberry, an unmistakable but proportionate and tamer brininess. The texture was softer, velvet like. Medium-boded, with good balance, it had some heat. It almost overpowered the mushroom pizza (because of the briny character), and needed unembellished red meat protein. It was also a bit awkward with the blackened salmon. (1 bottle tasted)
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2009 Seven Artisans Montepulciano

The Seven Artisans 2009 Montepulciano was grown in the upper Suisun Valley by winemaker Jeff Miller who takes a straightforward, no fuss, no muss approach to clean, solid winemaking. Jeff believes that his Montepulciano does best without any oak treatment. This wine started with aromas of strawberry, toast and spice (licorice) notes and vague leather hints. A mix of cherry and strawberry predominated in the mouth. Supple, smooth tannins, some heat, lighter body, and more restrained acids made up the structure of this wine. The finish seemed dominated by heat and clear fruit was a bit hard to find. On the second day, fleshy strawberry and licorice were joined by a hint of raspberry and floral notes. In the mouth, fleshy strawberry took on a slightly sweet note. The wine also became creamier and richer and the tannins were fine and supple. The wine maintained a good balance. The finish was fairly persistent, with bright ripe strawberry and a bit of heat. The wine was a pleasant companion to the mushroom pizza, with which it did not compete. It also went well with the blackened salmon. (ABV not available, 2 bottles tasted, 400 cases made)