Revisiting an Old Friend

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.

I recently reviewed Gargiulo’s 2009 Money Road Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon in Gotta Get That Money (Road), so I thought it would be interesting to check in on the 2012 vintage while it is still fresh in my mind. Earlier, I reviewed Gargiulo’s 2015 Aprile Sangiovese in Italy’s Favorite Grape…from California?.

Today’s Wine: 2012 Money Road Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14.6% ABV

The 2012 Money Road Ranch Cab is deep ruby/purple in color and almost entirely opaque. Once this opens up, the wine showcases aromas of blackberry jam, crème de cassis, wild blueberry, spiced plum, redcurrant, green herbs, tobacco, fresh leather, black volcanic soil, slate, and toasted oak. On the palate, I get notes of black cherry, juicy plum, boysenberry, licorice, cedar, damp rocky earth, ground black peppercorn, black tea, cardamom, and a hint of vanilla. This wine is medium- to full-bodied with moderate acidity, remarkably integrated and velvety medium (-) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish that adds notes of iron and smoke. Though you can certainly draw the parallels between the 2009 and 2012 vintages in terms of style and expression, the 2012 is certainly more elegant and velvety in its mouthfeel where I felt the 2009 was a bit more jammy and syrupy. 1,236 cases produced.

Price: $80 direct from the winery upon release. This is a very solid vintage for the Money Road Ranch bottling and, alongside the 2007 and 2013 vintages, one of my favorites that I’ve tried. Pair this with filet mignon, pepper-crusted ahi tuna, or lamb.

Gotta Get That Money (Road)

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.

I previously wrote about Gargiulo in Italy’s Favorite Grape…from California? back on October 20, 2019 and have recreated the background above from my previous post. If you’d like to see pictures from my visit to Gargiulo last September, some can be found at the link above.

Today’s Wine: 2009 Money Road Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14.8% ABV

The 2009 Money Road Ranch Cab is medium to deep ruby in color and slightly transparent. I let this open up in the glass, and after about 30 minutes the nose showcases aromas of blackberry, blueberry, plum, baked red berries, licorice, volcanic earth, cedar, mushroom, baking spice, and oak. There is still a bit of heat as well. On the palate, I get notes of blackberry compote, black cherry, redcurrant, jammy wild strawberry, cigar box, sweet tobacco, damp loamy soil, green herbs, syrupy cola, and a hint of vanilla. This is medium- to full-bodied with high acidity, fully integrated medium (-) tannins, and a long finish. Though this is not my favorite vintage of this wine I’ve had (it’s a bit jammy/syrupy compared to others), this is not showing any signs of slowing down and easily has another 5 years left. 883 cases produced.

Price: $80 direct from winery upon release. In regards to price, this is fairly priced but I would argue to spend a bit more to try their G Major 7 or 575 OVX bottlings, otherwise explore the incredible options around the $80 from other producers. Pair this with steak, roasted lamb, a good burger, or beef short ribs.

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.