Displaying items by tag: Sangiovese
More than Just Sweaters
By Dan Clarke
Sheep are such versatile, giving creatures.
Although Americans may recognize them for producing wonderful woolen goods, we don’t seem to appreciate them in a culinary sense as much as many other of the world’s cultures.
March 13, 2015 Wine Pick of the Week
2013 Rosé of Sangiovese
Columbia Valley (Washington)
Suggested Retail: $14
“Pink in color—watermelon to coral in hue. Aromas of strawberries, raspberries and maybe a bit of honeysuckle. More strawberry and raspberry in the flavor with a nice roundness in the mouth. Sangiovese is popular grape variety for Northwest rosé winemakers. There’s lot of lively fruit and the good natural acidity of Sangiovese to balance the slight sweetness (measured at .8 residual sugar). An altogether pleasant rosé wine.”
Food Affinity: “Reviewer enjoyed the Maryhill Rosé of Sangiovese with grilled pork chops and sweet onions. This wine is delicate enough to accompany egg dishes for Easter brunch, but has enough substance to justify pairing with ham.”
Italian Passion, California Sunshine
by Dan Clarke
Sangiovese has disappointed many California growers and vintners. Once hoped to be the next viticultural success in a state that can grow most anything, this variety hasn't reached the broad success here that it has enjoyed in Tuscany. Were there more growers devoted to the cause like Jim Gullett, the story might be different.
San Francisco Bay Area natives Jim and Suzy Gullett purchased 21 acres in the Shenandoah Valley of California's Amador Country in the fall of 1984. Zinfandel and Barbera had long history in Amador County and some newcomers were planting the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that were so successful in Napa and Sonoma. Why choose Sangiovese? “We wanted to do something other than Zinfandel,” Gullett explained. “Barbera? Yeah, we could have done that,” he reflects, but that prospect obviously didn't excite him. “We wanted to do something different and we thought that it (Sangiovese) could work here. I'm a bit of a contrarian and sometimes look for things to do differently.”
The computer scientist who was turning farmer chose to go to Sangiovese's historical source. “I believe that wine is first made in the vineyard,” Jim explains. In the fall of the year after they purchased their property, Jim, Suzy and their two and five-year-old boys traveled to Tuscany “to make sure that we wanted to do this.” They made the acquaintance of men prominent in the world of Sangiovese—people like Paolo di Marchi of Isola e Olena and Alceo di Napoli of Castello dei Rampolla. On returning to California, further investigation followed and the Gulletts observed the progress people like Bob Pepi and Dick Peterson were having with the variety. “Things we saw in Italy, we could see in this winery Caporone in Paso Robles,” Jim recalls. When they acquired their Shenandoah Road property about half its acreage was fallow, but was likely a grain field at one time according to Gullett. The other half of the property was planted to walnuts. Noceto is Italian for walnut and Jim's wife, Suzy, grew up in Walnut Creek, California. So was born Vino Noceto, the wine estate said by several experts to be home to California's best Sangiovese.
In the spring of 1987 the couple acquired an additional 18-1/2 acres adjacent to their original parcel and began planting grapes the following year. Of their twenty-four planted vineyard acres in Amador County, about 23 are devoted to five selections of Sangiovese. “There's a bit of Canaiolo Nero, Trebbiano and Malvasia, too, and two rows of Aglianico, one row of Petite Sirah, one row of Alicante Bouschet and one row of Syrah,” Gullett says. He likens these additional varieties to seasonings in the kitchen. “With Sangiovese a very little bit added will change the wine,” he explains. Vino Noceto has several bottlings of Sangiovese, one of these labeled “Misto” contains 87% Sangiovese, 3% Canaiolo Nero, 4% Malvasia and 6% Trebbiano. In all, Vino Noceto produces 4-5,000 cases of Sangiovese annually and 400-500 cases each of Pinot Grigio, Zinfandel and Barbera.
Though Jim Gullett is intimately involved in all aspects of the Vino Noceto vineyards and winery, he has help. Dave Brown is responsible for most of the orchard and vineyard work on the property. He's a fourth or fifth-generation resident of Amador's Shenandoah Valley and his family farms a nearby vineyard. Rusty Folena, who also has deep roots in this area, handles the day-to-day aspects of the winemaking.
Jim and Suzy Gullett have three adult children; Randy is 33 and works as a project manager for a Silicon Valley computer company. Bobby is a couple of years younger and is taking a sabbatical after several years working for the winery. Daughter Lindy, 27, is finishing her Ph.D. in psychology at NYU.
Prominent as Vino Noceto is among American Sangiovese fans, it's still a small, family-run operation. About 80% of its sales are direct-to-consumer. These come from their tasting room and a 1700-member wine club. Though the vast majority of the remaining 20% goes to wholesale markets within California, Vino Noceto wines can also be found in about 10 other states.
A sign in the tasting room at Vino Noceto reads, “Italian Passion, California Sunshine.” Speaking of his commitment to Sangiovese, Jim Gullet explains, “This is a long-term procedure. If you don't have focus, fortitude and finances to go for five, six or even 10 years, it's irrelevant. It takes that long.” Vino Noceto has been “a 25-year project to get us to a certain point,” he says. After a moment, he adds that the 25-year mark was 2009. One could conclude that at Vino Noceto Sangiovese has benefited from a good deal of California passion, too.
Editor's note: If you're planning a visit to this colorful wine-growing region east of Sacramento, you may want to check out the Gold Country listings in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of Sierra Foothill Wineries, as well as the sites of Lodging and Dining options and even nearby craft Beer purveyors.
Sam Sebastiani Debuts La Chertosa Wines
Sonoma, CA – May 13, 2014 – Sam Sebastiani has announced the release of La Chertosa wines. Named for the 14th century Renaissance monastery in the Tuscan valley of Farneta, Italy where the Sebastiani ancestral roots began, the wines are produced from California grapes grown primarily in red Tuscan series soils and aged moderately in new and young oak barrels. Their style is described as “Old World” because the wines are made in a balanced and food-friendly style.
When Sam’s grandfather, Samuele Sebastiani, came to Sonoma in 1893, he found that the area closely resembled faraway Farneta in three ways; it boasted a mild Mediterranean climate, had the same red soils and was blessed with gently sloping hillsides. He founded Sebastiani Winery in 1904, where he employed the time-honored techniques taught him by the Chertosinian monks in Farneta. This is the winemaking style that his grandson continues to use.
“In the two previous chapters of my winemaking life,” Sam reminisced, “running Sebastiani and then Viansa winery, we held true to our heritage, by striving to find the best soils and vineyards to create the 'Old World' winemaking style.”
So successfully did Sam Sebastiani honor his heritage and “Old-World,” Italian-style winemaking techniques, that the president of Italy bestowed knighthood on Sam in 2002. The acccolade was in recognition of Sebastiani’s contributions to Italy’s winemaking heritage here in the United States. .
Parallel to his lifetime as a winemaker, Sam Sebastiani has lived a passionate life as a conservationist focused on waterfowl. In the 1950s, Sam’s father, winemaker August Sebastiani, had him tending his penned, personal collection of North American waterfowl. The younger Sebastiani fell in love with watching the cycle of bird life. He decided to care for birds in the wild and got his chance in 1990 when he built his first waterfowl preserve at Viansa Winery. This 90-acre wetland restoration project was designed and created by Sam and Ducks Unlimited. It was a resounding success and garnered Sam the Private Conservationist of the Year Award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Still enraptured by the wetland project in Sonoma Valley, Sebastiani found his next project after visiting the North Platte River in Nebraska. Impressed with the waterfowl numbers, in 2002 he purchased an 800-acre island in the river with an additional surrounding 1,500 acres. He and his wife, Robin, have built 18 ponds connected by undulating streams of warm water so, from the sky, this 2,300 acre ranch looks like a land of lakes and waterways. The ultimate effect has been to create a veritable magnet for wild ducks and geese called Winemaker’s Island.
“It may seem a stretch to some,” explains Sebastiani, “but to me winemaking and conservation lead to the same conclusions. Whether it is wine or waterfowl, we must remember that we are stewards of the land and retain respect and reverence for Mother Nature.”
La Chertosa's wines are produced in very small quantity and have limited distribution in California, Nebraska and Colorado. Further information can be had at www.lachertosawines.com.