Corti Brothers in Sacramento is featuring our Montepulciano and Sagrantino in their Fall newsletter right now, in fact they pretty much took all that is left - and the prices are killing me... You can view the newsletter HERE
Unique Italian Red Varietals Grown in California
In our store tasting of 23 February 2012, we tasted a series of varietals from the 2010 vintage produced by Rosa D'Oro winery in Clear Lake, Lake County, California. Their Sangiovese was a very good example of the variety and we purchased it. Two other varieties, Montepulciano and Sagrantino were very fine and unusual for California. I would like to tell you about these two wines.
Montepulciano is correctly Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. We have to call it just Montepulciano. The Rosa D’Oro wine is from Mt Oso Vineyards, Tracy Hills, California. Mount Oso, a 3,360 foot peak in Stanislaus County, is part of the Diablo Range. This, then, leads to another possible conundrum: the Tuscan wine known as Montepulciano, correctly, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, comes from the town of Montepulciano but is a sangiovese wine. However, the lovely Rosa D’Oro Montepulciano is from that variety and is very good indeed. Tasting it with the same variety grown in Italy, shows that it fares better than well--and might just be a very good variety for California in the right spot. And the Tracy Hills, just might be that spot.
Tracy Hills is a large viticultural area straddling both San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties in northern California. It is on the east side of the Altamont Pass and is a very deep soil region with a special mitigating climate due to the Pacific winds which keep it cool during the day and warm at night.
Four barrels, 96 cases, were produced. We bought 50 cases. This wine has 13.8% alcohol and is fruity with a brambly character and does not have the rustic character which it often shows in Italy. A very good red wine!
Sagrantino is a variety that has become a bit of a darling in Italy since the mid 1970s. Its home is the area around Montefalco in Umbria where its traditional use is to make a passito wine–wine made from grapes which have been allowed to wither before crushing. Due to the tannic character of this aromatic red variety, it needs the sugar of the sweet wine style to overcome the variety’s innate tannin. The origin of the variety in California is none other than Randall Graham of Bonny Doon Vineyards.
The Rosa D’Oro Sagrantino is the best expression of the variety, as a dry red wine, I have ever tasted. Again, it is from the Tracy Hills area, Oso Vista Vineyards. There are only some 10 acres of this variety in California. Four barrels, producing 96 cases, were made. The barrels were 2-4 years old. Alcohol is 14.4%. The aromatic character of the variety is well defined in this wine with a fruity, spicy, but dry character. Usually Sagrantino needs other varieties to fill out the wine, but in this wine it does very well alone. It should age well, enhancing its aroma, flavor, and in this wines’s case, its softness.