Virtual Wine Tasting ~ Sipping Back with Sangiovese
Winemakers tend to fall in love with certain varietals from distinct vineyards which leads them to make vintage after vintage of wine to better know the terroir of the place. Uniquely, 18% of all Sangiovese in California is grown here in Sonoma – so we have chased this grape to not only know it better through the lens of single vineyards, but to know the story of its terroir as only Sonoma expresses it. During our first virtual wine tasting, it was wonderful to hear Michael Muscardini sit back and savor his memories with us about how this single grape made its mark on his life, as well as acknowledging its importance as a varietal and how it has continued to fascinate and challenge our winemaker over the years.
Since relationships are everything to Michael, he values his connection to his growers as part of our family. Michael met Sandy Zanotto, grower and owner of Alice’s Vineyard, when he was seeking Sangiovese to make an unusual style of Rosato. Fortunately, for us, Michael quickly realized the quality of her fruit, and decided to exclusively produce single vineyard expressions from it, and the story of one of our lower-elevation Brunello-style Sangiovese wines produced from the revered Grosso clone, was born.
During this virtual tasting, we also encouraged our viewers who could do so, to taste the 2016 Sangiovese, Alice’s Vineyard next to one of our other premier Brunello-style Sangiovese-focused vineyards by way of the 2016 Sangiovese, Alpicella Vineyards. We wanted to do this to compare lower and higher elevation Sangiovese. We discovered that the 2016 Sangiovese from Alice’s Vineyard held much richer fruit and darker spice notes while the more stressed Sangiovese from Alpicella Vineyards, which tends to be bolder in its youth than the Alice’s, was showing more Old World characteristics in being a little leaner and expressing more herbaceous notes.
As we wrapped up this first virtual tasting, we encouraged everyone to consider writing their own review of the wine and submit it for a chance to win a complimentary signed bottle of it by Michael and have it posted on our blog - something we plan to do every week for each virtual tasting in this special series. To us, a review doesn’t necessarily need to contain tasting notes – we are after the stories or even memories that these wines inspired – be it at first sip or over a collection of years while coming to know it better. After all, our palates form their own terroir or sense of place; and at Muscardini, we hope our wines bring people a little closer to their sense of home and family.
For this week's virtual tasting wine review, we selected wine club member, Ray de Wit's writeup as the official winner of the complimentary signed bottle of 2016 Sangiovese, Alice's Vineyard. We found Ray's review to be funny, sensitive and reflective, and we appreciated learning how Sangiovese held a special place in both his heart and well as in Sue's, his late wife.
Congratulations, Ray! See the review below...
First, I have to say I am not a wine connoisseur...more of a "wine common sewer", but I do know what I like. I have never had a bad Muscardini wine and while my favorite remains your Tesoro, the 2016 Sangiovese, Alice Vineyards was excellent. To me, it was a bit tart (not in a bad way). It mellowed as it opened up, and while I didn't experience a lot of "nose" with it, tart fruit and somewhat smoky flavors as I sensed them came out during the virtual wine tasting. Sangiovese was the first wine that my late wife Sue and I tasted at Muscardini. We enjoyed several visits to the winery before she passed in February 2018. We both liked full-bodied reds, but Sue did not like those with heavy tannins. We found Muscardini’s Sangiovese to match both her dislike of tannins and our joint love of a full-bodied red. On our 50th wedding anniversary, we took a cruise of the Baltic and took two bottles of wine to celebrate our day (August 12th); one was a 2010 Duckhorn blend “The Discussion” and the other was a 2011 Muscardini Tesoro. What a special evening onboard the Viking cruise with, in my opinion, Muscardini being the highlight. That said, your Sangioveses are one of my favorites, along with Tesoro of course, and I look forward to a long relationship with the finest winery in Sonoma.