The vast majority of wine reviews are about recently released wines, and for good reason. The purpose of most wine reviews is to guide consumers, and only recently released wines will be widely available for consumers to purchase. Furthermore, the vast majority of wine sold in the U.S will not age well beyond a year or two anyway so there would be no point in tracking their development.
However, this practice of reviewing only recent releases ignores the fact that age vastly improves wines of quality and serious wine connoisseurs have a deep interest in knowing which wines will age well. Wine writing that ignores the aging process misses one of the most significant dimensions of the wine-drinking experience. So, on occasion, I think it is useful to write about wines that have been cellared, especially when we can answer questions about wines that lack the reputation of being age-worthy.
We know that quality Sangiovese will age well—Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico Reserva, despite some inconsistency, are among the world’s great wines for age-ability. But what about American Sangiovese? Will it stand up to the Italians?
Seghesio Family Vineyards is one of the more well-established Sonoma brands having produced wine there since 1895. Although best known for their Zinfandel, they produce several Italian varietals as well and are a good representation of quality American Sangiovese.At 10 years post-vintage, this wine is still going strong and is, I would think, now at its peak.
Still a bright ruby with little rim variation and no bricking, it shows ripe, red plum on the nose, just on the edge of raisin but the fruit is reticent enough for dried floral notes to present. But the most prominent characteristics are oak-derived aromas, vanilla and pencil lead with some freshly-turned earth. The fruit is darker on the palate but quickly shades to tea and is packed with scents of wood and chocolate. This never was a fruit bomb and at this point the fruit is really taking a back seat to polished and refined secondary flavors.
The evolution of textures on the palate is lovely—initially soft and round, the mid-palate swells with ample acidity giving way to a medium length finish with finely knit tannins, drying but with no bite. This is not a rustic wine; it is pleasant, elegant, and comfortable with nothing out of balance. Just a bit of heat and bitterness on the finish from the alcohol.
Compared to Italian versions, American Sangiovese tends to be riper, with higher alcohol, slightly reduced acidity, and liberal use of typically American oak. Seghesio’s Sangiovese fits that description. But despite the differences in approach it is still recognizably Sangiovese and has aged wonderfully. However, although the best Brunellos can age 20 years or more, I would drink this in the next few years as the fruit is becoming less prominent.
Opened: August 2014
Price: $30 when released
For those interested in learning more about how CA Sangiovese ages, check out this 2011 blogpost about a tasting of two 1998 Napa Valley Sangioveses. http://www.villaragazziwine.com/1/category/la%20sirena/1.html
Thanks. That is interesting.