Specialty Club – February 2013

2009 Seghesio Family Vineyards, Omaggio
Seghesio was founded in 1895, when Edouardo Seghesio purchased his first vineyards in Sonoma County, ten years after he had emigrated from Piedmont. To mark their one hundredth anniversary, the current generation of Seghesios started making this Cabernet-Sangiovese blend in tribute to Eduardo’s first planting of what is now the oldest Sangiovese vineyard in California. The grapes come from their best block of estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grown on Rattlesnake Hill at their Home Ranch Vineyard in the Alexander Valley. The Cabernet is from vines planted on the bench, while the Sangiovese comes from the steep terraces on the face of the hill, where the shallow volcanic soils challenge the vines to produce naturally lower yields. In 2009, they added some Cabernet from the cooler area of Mount Veeder in Napa Valley. After partial fermentation in new French oak and a one-month maceration on the skins, the wine is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, one third of them new. The final blend is 60% Cabernet, which contributes rich black currant and cassis flavors, and 40% Sangiovese, the source of its good acidity and black cherry notes. The tannins are long and silky, and the oak is very well integrated. This is a classic California blend, delicious, elegant and ready to drink, and a fine match for beef, lamb, and game dishes. A relative bargain at $51, it is pretty limited but still available.

2010 Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley Chardonnay
Yes, this is the currant vintage of the famous wine that won the white wine crown at the Paris tasting in 1976, putting California on the viticultural map, although Mike Grgich, who made that winning wine, has of course moved on to his own estate. Today, the winemaker is Bo Barrett, the owner’s son and the lead character in the very fictional movie Bottle Shock. Although the last decade has had its share of bumps in the road for Montelena, its Chardonnay is still recognized as one of the best in California. And this one might be one of their very best, as higher acidity from the cooler vintage produced, as Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate noted, “a very Chablis-like Napa Valley Chardonnay.” In response to the vintage, the Montelena team spread the Chardonnay harvest out over a full month, to get an even ripeness of fruit, and clearly cut back on the oak profile. While the wine has its usual rich, creamy nose, the mid-palate is dominated by stone fruits like peach and nectarine, and the finish is minerally, crisp, and clean. It would pair very well with shellfish, white meats, and dry cheeses. It is ready to drink, only $45, and definitely still available.