Friday, August 21, 2009

Italian varietals, California grown - Part 3 – Red wines

In continuation of the survey of Italian varietals grown in California, we will now look at some red varietals.

Niner Wine Estates 2005 Sangiovese from Bootjack Ranch in Paso Robles has aromas of peppery spice, smoke, candied fruit, vanilla, bright strawberry and black cherry. The palate presents luscious cherry pie and white chcolate, with ample texture and good tannin structure. The finish is long with tart cherry flavor. The price is $20.

The grapes are grown at Bootjack Ranch, located on the east side of the Salinas River in Paso Robles. The wine was aged in a mix of French and Hungarian small oak barrels to enable completion of malolactic fermentation. Try this with cheese Ravioli with basil pesto sauce.

August Ridge 2007 Barbera from Paso Robles is a complex wine that is already showing many layers of flavors from the first sip to the long, lingering finish. Flavors and aromas of cherry, plum and anise are complemented with toast, vanilla and caramel. This Barbera tastes delicious with grilled meats and game, spicy sauces and sharp cheeses. The price is $30.

From the beginning the goal of August Ridge was to produce wines that combine the robust styling of the best California wines with the restrained elegance of the classic wines from northern and central Italy. John Backer’s family has been growing grapes for four generations dating back to the 1800’s while Jill’s family brought over robust Italian cooking and the traditions from a small town just outside of Rome, Italy.

Falcor Wines produces a great 2005 Sangiovese from Napa Valley. Rich aromas of cassis and licorice complement this wine’s high fruit tones and earthy, spicy bouquet. On the palate, Sangiovese’s bright red fruit flavors and firm acidity wrap around a dense, cherry-currant core of fruit. Further hints of black cherries, orange zest, and saddle leather are revealed in its long, concentrated finish. This weekend grill up some lamb chops and taste it with this Sangiovese. The price is approximately $35.

Inspired by the “Super Tuscan” red wines of Italy, this smooth Napa Valley Sangiovese was blended with 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in slow-toasted, tight-grained French oak barrels. These special barrels, purchased from the historic Gamba cooperage in Piedmont, Italy, helped create aromatic and textural complexity in the wine.

It is always interesting to study a group of wines and see not only how the wine tastes, but also to look at the passion and love that each winemaker puts into his craft.

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