Italy’s Favorite Grape…from California?

Today’s Story: Gargiulo Vineyards

Gargiulo is a small, family-owned winery in Oakville, Napa Valley that produces about 3,400 cases of wine each year from two vineyards. Owners Jeff and Valerie Gargiulo bought their first vineyard, Money Road Ranch, in 1992 to fulfill their winemaking dream, adding to the property in 1997 by purchasing the 575 OVX property. Founded as a Cabernet Sauvignon estate, Gargiulo produces three different Cabs and a Sangiovese, though they also have Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Merlot planted for blending in their G Major 7 Cab. Gargiulo produces small amounts of Chardonnay from Frank Wood Ranch and a rosé of Sangiovese as well.

The Gargiulo family and their winemaker, Kristof Anderson, follow a more hands-off approach to winemaking, who in their words say is “gentle and patient.” When it comes time to harvest the grapes, they do so by hand at dawn, hand sort the grapes three times, and use gravity flow methods for winemaking. This arguably preserves the natural fragrances and flavors of the wines by removing pumps and machinery, and is a reason I believe Gargiulo wines are consistently elegant yet structured to go the distance.

During the last week of September this year, I had the opportunity to taste at Gargiulo for the first time (though I’ve had many of their wines over the years) and it was an incredible experience. While the indoor tasting room is something special with its stone walls, big leather chairs, and guitars stationed on stands around the perimeters, we sat outside taking in the view. Paired with a plate of meats and cheese, we tasted through Gargiulo’s current offerings and chatted with our exceptional host, Lucas, while looking out at the vineyards and their neighbor, Screaming Eagle. I included a picture of this view on my homepage, and also threw a couple bonus pictures at the bottom of this post.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Aprile

96% Sangiovese, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon; 13.6% ABV

I’ve had an opportunity to drink several bottles and vintages of this wine back to 2008, and it’s always a crowd favorite. Easy drinking, bright red fruits, and low alcohol combine into a refined Sangiovese. The wine is bright ruby red in color and almost rose/pink toward the edges of the glass. The nose is very vibrant, with aromas of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, green herbs, and a little bit of earth and oak that leap from the glass. On the palate we get notes of cranberry, cherry, underbrush, white pepper, and chalk. The mouthfeel with this wine is very elegant and smooth, being medium-bodied while showing medium (+) acidity and medium tannins into a long, slightly chewy finish. GV produced 912 cases of this wine.

Price: $60. I like the price-point on this. It is somewhat hard to find Sangiovese in California to begin with, especially of this quality from a producer like Gargiulo. Pair this with red sauce pizza like I did (or pasta) and it’s hard to beat.

From My Visit:

Gargiulo Vineyards, with Screaming Eagle in the distance.
Merlot grapes in barrel.

4 thoughts on “Italy’s Favorite Grape…from California?”

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