Saturday, November 26, 2022

Andretti Montona Super Tuscan BYOB at Angeli's Italian

Andretti Montona Super Tuscan Napa Valley Reserve BYOB at Angeli's Italian

Saturday night dinner out with neighbor friends Mark and Shirley, we dined at Angeli's Restorante Italian, our favorite neighborhood Italian trattoria. 

I took a special Reserve bottle BYOB from our cellar for the occasion. This was a perfect selection for the evening and was a highlight of our dinner out - a tribute to Mark's career in the auto business from producer legendary race car driver Mario Andretti, a Super Tuscan Italian Blend, tribute to Shirley's Italian heritage, and a fabulous wine pairing for our Italian cuisine dinner.

Andretti Montona Super Tuscan Napa Valley Reserve Red Wine 2016

We discovered this wine and the Montona portfolio/brand when we visited the Andretti Winery and Estate in southeast Napa Valley during our Napa Wine Experience in 2018 I wrote about that visit in a more detailed blogpost earlier, and about the Montona brand and this particular label in another previous blopost.

This label is from the Montona Reserve brand, the high end premium line of the Andretti portfolio. The line is named for the village of Montona, the hometown of the Andretti family and birthplace of the legend racer turned wine producer.

Actually, the village where Andretti was born is in Croatia, home to another famous Napa ‘vintner producer’ Mike Grgich.

Andretti Winery was established in 1996 by the famed race car driver, Mario Andretti in a joint venture project with Joe Antonini, former CEO of Kmart, who was one of Mario’s sponsors during his racing days.

The property is actually owned by the Laird Family, prominent growers and producers. Andretti leases the winery on site as well as the tasting room. 

Andretti also leases about 42 acres of vineyards surrounding the winery, planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. 

They also purchase grapes from other growers from select vineyards around Napa Valley which must include the Sangiovese which is a key foundation varietal in this blend.

The Andretti Winery features a small faux Italian/Tuscan building and courtyard with picturesque fountains and landscaping. There is a small cottage, patios and lawns that are available for small private tastings and picturesque grounds which would be ideal for an private event or special outing.

Andretti Montona Reserve Napa Valley Super Tuscan 2016

As noted above, this label is not Estate bottled, meaning the grapes for the juice in the bottles are not necessarily grown on the property, but rather, may have been purchased from contract growers. As such, the (rear) label cites the wine is merely "Bottled by Andretti Winery". 

Hence, with all due respect to the legendary Indy Racecar driver, Mario Anrdretti, and his benefactor investor partner in the winery venture, former CEO of K-Mart Joe Antonini, they are tenant wine producers, not landowners or winery estate owners. 

As a wine collector and eonphile, I would prefer to support family owned farmer/grower winemakers who produce wines from grapes produced on their properties. This provides a consistent source of fruit year after year and thereby allows for the focus on terroir and its impact on the wine from vintage to vintage, as a basis for comparison over the years, and as a comparison against other similarly situated terroir focused wines. 

In any event, this wine was delicious and I'd like to obtain more, especially in light of the fact we've run out of one of our favorite labels, the same grape varietal from the same vintage, that we drank this week as  I featured in the previous blogpost.

Having just written the comments above about this wine, and all the reasons why we may not continue buying and collecting such, I now admit, this may be the highest performing Montona Reserve label we have tried from Andretti. As with earlier tastings, this wine tonight exceeded our expectations for this producer and label release. At a super premium release list price of $110, one would hope and expect it to be a top performer.

The name "Super Tuscan" is a reference to the style and composition of this red wine blend - attached to wines from the Tuscany wine region in Northern Italy where the native and designated wine grape is Sangiovese. Producers there started growing French Bordeaux grape varietals and blending them with Sangiovese to craft what became known as Super Tuscan wines. 
As such, this is a blend of Italian varietal Sangiovese (50%), and Bordeaux Napa varietals Cabernet Sauvignon (46%), and Merlot (4%). Some vintages of this label also contain slight amounts of the Bordeaux varietal Petit Verdot - which is commonly and customarily added for dark color and structure.

The Winemakers' notes on this wine: "The Montona Reserve Super Tuscan is an intense and complex wine achieved by blending our finest barrels of Sangiovese with our favorite Bordeaux varietals. Deep ruby red in color the 2016 Super Tuscan is bursting with aromas of rosewood and violet, followed by candied cherries and dark plum. On the palate the fruitiness explodes in your mouth with bright flavors of cherry, raspberry and plum layered with toasty vanilla and silky smooth tannins. Enjoy this wine with grilled meats, braised short ribs, or your favorite aged cheeses."

This was aged 20 months is 50% new French Oak.
Consistent with, but better than previous tastings, at six years this is hitting its stride, likely at the apex of its drinking profile - dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, elegant, polished and complex, yet wonderfully integrated, full round bright vibrant black currant, black raspberry and dark plum fruits accented by burnt caramel, vanilla, almond, black tea and sweet toasty oak with smooth polished tannins on a lasting silky finish.

RM 93 points.