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)
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)
In preparation for Open That Bottle Night (live, only on Palate Press; Saturday, February 26 from 7 pm - 10 pm EST), contributing editor Howard Hewitt shares some information on the bottle he plans to open for the event.
A cheerful bright cherry aroma wafts up from the glass at first. After the wine opens a bit, deeper cherry aromas and flavors carry an undertone of tobacco and earth. Tannins are moderately woody, in a pleasant way. This wine is good to sip on its own; it also works well with pasta with a fresh tomato sauce, liberally sprinkled with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
For a second-generation winemaker, following in your father’s footsteps may well mean doing your own thing. Chuck Ortman made his name in California by mastering one of the state’s most widely planted varieties, Chardonnay. His son Matt is taking a different route, building on the family tradition with sparsely planted sangiovese.
An everyday Tuscan Frescobaldi. Benefits from air, so open an hour before dinner, or swirl a lot in the glass at first. Pleasant, mild aroma with notes of cherry and caramelized fruit, opening to plumminess in the flavor. Not super-fruity—a touch restrained, with tannins adding structure. As the label says, best with stronger foods; I liked it with slivers of Romano cheese.
This is not a wine: this is an icon of Maremma Toscana! The grapes are mainly from old Sangiovese clones, with high density planting and extremely limited production, which give the wine ruby coloration in the glass, and a bouquet of dark flowers (violet) and spice (pepper, cinnamon, cloves) but also with a nuance of chocolate. In the mouth it is fresh, with good acidity, still fruity, with smooth tannins. A very elegant and drinkable wine, perfect with grilled red meals.
A lovely Chianti Classico from a difficult year, this shines with bright acidity and cherry flavors. A hint of raspberry along with the cherry at the attack blends smoothly into darker blackberry flavors through the mid-palate. Tannins are smooth but slightly drying, leaving a sensation of soft suede sprinkled with black pepper. It clearly has years of cellar life remaining, the acids and tannins still actively at play. This comes a bit more dear than a typical pizza Chianti and is worth holding for something else, but if it is all you have for pizza you will not be disappointed. Save it, if you can, for pork cops or real italian braciole (not the involtini misnamed in the U.S.).