It is time for another edition of “Random Samples”–I occasionally get samples from marketing agencies and/or producers, and these can often be grouped together into some sort of over-arching theme: Drink Them and It Will Come, Summer is Here, So That Means (More) Rosé, If It Doesn’t Sparkle, It Doesn’t Matter.
Other times, I get just a bottle or two though that do not have any apparent connection or link. Instead of holding on to those bottles until the “right” combination comes along, I decided to link all these “random” bottles together, making their own category.
[This go around, the wines were shipped out to California, to my father-in-law’s house since, wait for it, it is even illegal to ship wine samples to the
screwed up fine Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Yes, I am even taking this opportunity to rail against the second most restrictive state in the Union (we trail only Utah–yes Mississippi has friendlier alcohol laws than PA).]
The first two bottles come from long-time Italian varietal winemaker Jim Moore (who was the winemaker behind Robert Mondavi’s “La Famiglia” project which focused on Italian grapes). When Mondavi went the corporate route, the project was eliminated,, but Jim kept going when he teamed up with Mel Knox, a long time French barrel salesman, and created the brand Uvaggio (which is Italian for “blend”). The fruit for all the Uvaggio wines comes from Lodi, California, long a source for jug wines, but the appellation has recently been producing several highly regarded wines (more on Lodi in a coming post).
Lodi can be hot. Really hot. A fact that Jim feels is perfect for growing Italian varieties. Along with the Vermentino and Primitivo that I sampled, Jim produces a few Muscats (dry and sweet), a Barbera, and a smattering of other wines, all from Italian grapes.
2012 Uvaggio Vernmentino: Retail $14-16. Citrus and nuttiness with a bit of florality on the nose. On the palate, great acidity, but also a roundness that fills the mouth. Lingering finish. If I were to find more Italian whites like this, I could likely become a convert. Very Good to Outstanding 88-90 Points.
2011 Uvaggio Pimitivo: Retail $16-18. Light color, almost translucent (for those of you that think Primitivio and Zinfandel are synonymous need to get out a bit more often) with great blackberry nose with a hint of anise. Great balance on the palate with moderate alcohol. I would dare to say that this wine is true to the Italian style—really nice and a great price. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
The second duo of bottles came from a pair of winemakers with a much different background. The winery is a mother/daughter team from the Sonoma Coast. The mother (Rickey Trombetta Stancliff) started in the wine business for an event planner for Paul Hobbs a decade and a half ago. Once he found out that Rickey was interested in making wine, he brought her over to the production side of the operation. Eventually, her daughter Erica, who had helped her mother in the vineyards as a child, graduated with a degree in Enology from Fresno State.
Even though Rickey still works for Paul Hobbs at Crossbarn, mother and daughter have teamed up to form Trombetta Family Wines, which focuses on Pinot Noir from the Petaluma Gap.
2012 Trombetta Family Wines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir: Retail $45. Black raspberry, blueberry, and vanilla with a hint of earth on the nose. On the palate, earthy and a bit rich, but nice red fruit flavors with that earthiness from the nose. Lingering (although slightly hot) finish. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2012 Trombetta Family Wines Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast: Retail $65. Similar flavor profile to the Sonoma Coast, but noticeably deeper, with richer fruit and seamless integration. The finish here moves slightly beyond memorable, with lasting notes of vanilla and spice. I have had a lot of experience with Sonoma Coast Pinot and this ranks right up there with some of the best. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.