Monday, December 29, 2014

Del Dotto Giovani's Tuscan Reserve Napa Valley Sangiovese Blend 1997

Del Dotto Giovani's Tuscan Reserve Napa Valley Sangiovese Blend 1997

Excerpts repeated from earlier blog postings - People often ask me how one learns about tasting wines with all its variations, and I jokingly reply, practice, practice, practice (See my Wine Tasting 101). More seriously, perhaps I should say focus, focus, focus. Since most folks, like us, have limited resources, time, money, and opportunities to taste wines, focusing on one country, region or even varietal will help develop a vocabulary and familiarity with a particular wine type, style, region, varietal and even vintage. Learn one, then a couple, then expand.

Readers of this blog know we collect and favor Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot) from the US and France, and to a lesser degree Shiraz. That said, we do not collect or focus on Italian varietals or producers. We find it a particularly challenging endeavor with the myriad or varietals, regions and producers. Our Italian collection is extremely limited, so when we visited our favorite neighborhood Italian Trattoria, Angelis Italian, for a casual dinner, we pulled from the cellar this Sangiovese (Italian varietal) blend from California Napa Valley.

We have about a decade of vintages in our vertical collection of this label and we're starting to wind down those from the nineties, including this 1997, a much heralded vintage that was supposed to be long-lived.

I've written about Nils Venge and Del Dotto and their venturing into the Italian Sangiovese varietal in Napa Valley. Del Dotto, working with then winemaker, legendary Nils Venge were one of the first producers to experiment with Sangiovese in Napa Valley. Indeed, their first plantings were at the Estate along the Highway 29 at Zinfandel Lane just south of the town of St Helena. Today, Del Dotto have a magnificent cellar tasting facility at that location in the heart of Napa Valley that is a must visit for those wanting an immersion tasting and tour experience.

This is a Sangiovese based blend, named after Giovanni Del Dotto, son of the Del Dottos. David and Yolanda Del Dotto were featured producers at several of our winemaker dinners at our Napa Valley Wine Experiences during the mid to late nineties and after the millenium,  including those in 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2003. Del Dotto was one of the Up and Coming Napa Producers featured back in "The Undiscovered Dozen" 1994 Wine Spectator article. We discovered them then and started collecting their flagship Napa Cabernet and eventually adding this Tuscan Reserve and their Cabernet Franc. Del Dotto remain one of our favorite Napa producers whose wines from their early days continue to impress with their longevity and endurance. We still collect and hold a vertical of Del Dotto Cabernets going back to their 1992 inaugural vintage.

I remember first discovering this wine and buying it at the Wine Stop wine shop in Burlingame near SFO back in the mid-nineties, and then obtaining more from the producer over the years. I recall the early releases of this label came in 500ml bottles rather than normal 750's.

Consistent with earlier tasting notes ... but showing its age further, medium body, but the bright ruby color is starting to take on a tinge of rust brown on the rim as it starts to reach the end of its aging drinking window - aromatics of black berry and woody cedar, slight earthiness starting to show age but a couple years life left - slightly tart black cherry fruit with tones of anise and spice turning to moderate silky tannins on a pleasant lingering finish.

RM 88 points.