Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sangiovese - Venge Vineyards Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Vineyard Family Reserve 2002

Venge Vineyards Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Vineyard Family Reserve Sangiovese 2002

Wow, this is a totally different, much better wine than earlier tasting last year. Similar to the 2000 vintage journal review with its dark garnet color and medium bodied, this was bursting with full forward flavors of dark berry, hints of red berry fruits, with subtle tones of herb and anise notes and touch of leather and tobacco.on a moderate tannin lingering finish. 

RM 91 points.

Nils Venge was one of the pioneers and champions of the Italian Sangiovese varietal in Napa Valley. He was winemaker for Del Dotto when they planted the front acre at the estate on Hwy 29 at Zinfandel and released the Del Dotto Sangiovese back around 1998 which we featured in our tasting journal from that era. We first tried and then purchased this Venge Family Vineyards Penny Lane Vineyard Family Reserve Sangiovese at the winery during our Napa Wine Experience 2002  - Venge Vineyards, Rossini Ranch (picture below). See our Venge Wines Tasting Journal of Venge wines. Contrary to our most previous tasting notes for this vintage release which were lackluster, this time the wine burst with berry fruit aromas and flavors.

Rick & AJ tasting with Nils at Tra Vigne in St Helena

The Sangiovese grape varietal hails from Italy and is best known blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to craft the popular Italian wines known as "Super Tuscans." Sangiovese is a fairly delicate variety in terms of the fragrances and flavors it offers. In the hotter, drier parts of Southern Tuscany it produces bigger fleshier wines than those made in Chianti and other cooler, higher areas. Sangiovese can produce highly aromatic, fragrant wines with nicely integrated tannic structure.

If you are looking for wines that are 100% Sangiovese, you'll find it in Italian wines from Montalcino, where wines are made from the Brunello grape, also known as Sangiovese. Grosso, an especially high quality clone of the Sangiovese grape produces full-bodied and powerful wines labeled Brunello di Montalcino which rank with Barolo as Italy's most-ageworthy wines. Rosso di Montalcino, grown in the same area is also 100% Brunello, but results in a softer, fruitier wine that requires much less aging. Popular producers for both Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino include Altesino, Caparzo, and Val di Suga.

Sangiovese remains rare in Napa Valley where Cabernet Sauvignon is king. Look for Del Dotto and Venge Sangiovese and you'll be rewarded with a the perfect natural complement to Italian fare. As in our previous tasting journal on Venge Penny Lane Family Reserve Sangiovese, we took this to our favorite local Italian bistro Angelis Italian in Naperville.