Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Venge Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Vineyard Sangiovese

Venge Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Vineyard Sangiovese 2010

With son Alec visiting from NYC, we were joined by his girlfriend Viviana for a holiday visit. When Viv is around we have fun serving wines from one of our favorite producers, Venge with its 'V' branding prominently displayed on the label/bottle. We just received this lot of Venge Penny Lane Vineyard Sangiovese that we acquired at auction and were eager to try it.

In Italy, Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape variety accounting for approximately 10% of all vineyard plantings. It is most notably known for use as the only component of Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino, and the main component of the blend Chianti wines. In recent years it has gained notoriety in "Super Tuscan" wines like the well known highly regarded Tignanello. It became very popular blended with Cabernet and some of the other Bordeaux varietal grapes. 

We like to keep some Sangiovese on hand for serving with Italian food. Wines made from Sangiovese usually have medium-plus tannins and high acidity. Sangiovese's high acidity and moderate alcohol makes it a very food-friendly wine. It is ideally suited with Italian cuisine such as tomato-based pasta and pizza sauces with a Sangiovese-based Chianti.

Sangiovese can accentuate the flavours of somewhat bland dishes like meatloaf and roast chicken. A benefit of Sangiovese is that it accentuates herbal seasonings such as basil, thyme and sage that tend to compliment the herbal notes  of the grape. When blended with Cabernet, Merlot or Syrah, the Sangiovese blend takes on the character of those fuller-bodied reds and pair with heavier dishes such as steak and thick soups.

Young Sangiovese tends to have fresh fruity flavours of strawberry and a little spiciness. When aged in oak barrels it takes on the oak notes and well as even tar like flavours. While not as aromatic as Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Syrah, Sangiovese often has a flavour profile of sour red cherries with earthy aromas and tea leaf notes.

The well known Italian producer Antinori family promoted Sangiovese planting in America when they owned Atlas Peak Vineyards located in the Atlas Peak AVA in the foothills of Napa Valley. They found Californian Sangiovese could be more fruit-driven with floral notes than their Tuscan counterparts.

Nils Venge was an early proponent of Sangiovese in Napa Valley dating back to when he planted and produced Sangiovese wines while winemaker for Del Dotto in the mid to late nineties. We held some of those early vintages of Del Dotto as well as early vintages of Venge Sangiovese. Records show we held these label from the 1997, 1998 and 1999 vintages. We discovered and acquired those wines during our winery estate visits from that period.

Today, Venge produce another vineyard designated select Sangiovese sourced from fruit grown in the mountains on the Antinori family’s Antica Estate. They cite that this is one of just a handful of standing Sangiovese vineyards that remain in Napa Valley today. 

Venge Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Vineyard Sangiovese 2010

When I saw this label at auction, I eagerly bought the entire lot.  With limited production, it is not widely distributed and not generally seen here in the Midwest.

Wow. This exceeded my expectations and was bigger, brighter, and more expressive than what I remember or expected. It almost resembled a Syrah.

Dark inky colored, full bodied, rich concentrated extracted fruit, aromatic,almost intense black cherry and black raspberry with notes of tobacco leaf, tea and hints of tar on a smooth silky tannin laced finish. This was super with dark chocolate and begged for a spicy Italian pasta!

RM 92 points. 

This is a  blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Charbono.

The Cellartracker wine drinking window went out to 2016. Based on this tasting, I pushed it out to 2020!