This week we decided to double-up on the diversity with a variety—Sangiovese—rarely found in California, and an appellation—Ukiah Valley—that is in its infancy. Sangiovese is probably best known as the dominant grape in Chianti, or perhaps for its role as the sole grape in the incomparable Brunello di Montalcino. While the best of these wines demonstrate unequivocally that Sangiovese is a noble grape variety, it has not fared so well outside of Italy. This is most likely simply because we haven’t yet found the perfect places to plant it in California, though passionate winemakers like Michael Muscardini are beginning to have successes with more recently planted vineyards. In fact, Ukiah Valley is described as having a “Mediterranean” climate, with moderate rainfall and temperatures, so perhaps it will prove to be perfect for this grape.
The 2007 Muscardini Pauli Ranch Sangiovese is brilliant ruby in color, with lovely clarity. It possesses classic Sangiovese aromas of cherry and leather, along with cranberry, bright berry fruit, and hints of briar and vanilla. The palate is vibrant with black cherry, yet earthy and spicy with just a hint of toasted wood. Good acid provides lovely focus, and lifts the flavors on top each other, resulting in a beautifully layered mouthfeel. This is very elegant, with wonderful intensity.
Unmistakably Californian with its ripe fruit flavors, this also captures Sangiovese’s freshness and vibrancy, resulting in a wine that can be paired flexibly with many dishes, but that calls out for pasta or pizza with tomato sauce. This is truly a unique wine, and we are excited to bring it to you. This is a great choice for those looking for something a little out of the ordinary, or fans of Italian wine looking to see the potential for these varieties in California.
Let’s start in Italy, 1892, when Michael Muscardini's grandfather, Emilio Alchera, was born in the village of Calliano, just outside of the city of Asti in the Piemonte region. Emilio came to America in 1909 via Ellis Island in New York. After heading to the West Coast by train to meet his two brothers, Antonio and Louis, he settled in San Francisco.
Emilio began his living in California by helping to dig the Caldecott Tunnel, which connects the East Bay to Contra Costa County. After saving his money, he began to buy and run corner grocery stores where he sold fine bulk wines, and in his spare time made a red table wine for the family. His business would eventually become the "St. Helena Napa Valley Wine Company."
Learn more at www.muscardinicellars.com.
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