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May 11, 2007 10:29 AM

Paso Robles Sangiovese?

One of my favorite wines was the sangiovese made by Zenaida. They have recently trashed all their sangiovese vines, as has Justin. Mastantuono made a sangiovese, but they just went out of business and the winery that took them over is not producing one. Two questions: Is there a reason why sangiovese's are on the decline in Paso Robles? Can anyone recommend a good Central Coast sangiovese?

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  1. Foxen (in S.B. County) makes a nice Sangiovese Volpino.

    1. Rusak, Santa Ynez, had a very nice one two years ago when I was there. I wasn't crazy about the Zenaida Sangiovese when I was there. I wonder if Pipestone (Paso Robles) is producing any - their wines are stellar.

      1. There's only one slight proble with your premise. It's not that Sangiovese is on the decline in Paso; it's whether or not they were ever on the increase! In 2005, only 11,433 tons of Sangiovese were harvested in all of California. Compare this to Pinot Noir (56,358 tons), Grenache (71,419 tons), or Syrah (100,865 tons) -- let alone Merlot (327,655 tons), Cabernet Sauvignon (405,734 tons), or Zinfandel (419,222 tons).

        In terms of acreage, there were only 2,178 acres of Sangiovese in production in all California. Not very much. And most of it -- all things considered -- isn't all that great in terms of quality. Yes, there are some good wines from Sangionvese made in California, but they are few and far between. That's not only my opinion, but the opinion of consumers everywhere . . . after all, if the wine was selling like those proverbial hotcakes, growers would be planing more, not ripping the vines out or budding over to a different variety.

        8 Replies
        1. re: zin1953

          I am guessing it is too hot for sangiovese in Paso Robles. The vineyards must have been in the cooler areas.

          1. re: zin1953

            That is interesting. I tend to like California Sangiovese's, as well as several of the blends, such as Bacio Divino's Pazzo and Ferrari-Carano's Siena. Can you name any of the more reputable Cali Sangio's? Thanks!

            1. re: AlabasterDisaster

              I'm a bad person to ask about California Sangiovese . . . I've only had a few that I thought rose above "interesting." The Palmina has already been mentioned; Shafer, Unti and Seghesio are worth trying. But the best I ever had was Storrs, and they no longer produce it.

              Still, IMHO, Italy does it better and cheaper, so . . .

              1. re: zin1953

                Does Staglin still produce a Sangiovese?

                  1. re: zin1953

                    Shafer stopped Sangiovese production, literally sending a white flag of surrender with their last bottle to Antinori in Tuscany.

                    Luna makes a Sangiovese. It's OK, but I recommend you read the recs on
                    this board for Chianti, Chianti Classico, Morellino di Scansano, etc.

                    I don't think this country grows the grape well. With Sangiovese values from Italy, and high production/land costs in California, it doesn't make growing sense or financial sense for a winery to make it.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      No, it doesn't. I agree completely. Logically I think it should do well, but it never has -- not consistently. Whether that's due to clonal selection, viticultural- or winemaking practices, I have no idea. But were it to disappear completely from California, I wouldn't be disappointed . . .

                      1. re: zin1953

                        I guess everyone’s taste is different because I like CA Sangiovese. Although I drink gallons of Italian Sangiovese (Brunello, Vino Nobile, Super Tuscan, Chianti & 100% Sangiovese) every month, I really enjoy several domestic examples. My favorites are:
                        Altamura, Napa
                        Ramazzotti, Dry Creek Valley
                        Montevina - Terra D’ Oro, Shenandoah Valley
                        Vino Noceto , Shenandoah Valley
                        Flora Springs, St. Helena
                        Seghesio Family Vineyards, Healdsburg
                        2003 Meredith Family Vineyards, Trinity County
                        Macchia, Amador County
                        2001 Hunt Cellars, “Rhapsody”, Destiny Vineyards, Paso Robles
                        Pedroncelli, Dry Creek Valley
                        Monticelli Bros., “Mario”, Napa
                        Pietra Santa, San Benito County

                        I agree with Zin about Caparone in Paso Robles; it’s a little “rustic”.

          2. Palmina makes a sangiovese blended with a touch of merlot that is delicious; I think it's called Alisos after the name of the vineyard in Los Alamos.

            1. I’ve enjoyed several good versions of California sangiovese. The ‘01 and ‘02 Altamura $28 and the ‘03 Ramazzotti $18 are my favorites. The Montevina - Terra D’ Oro $14 is always reliably good as is the Vino Noceto $14, both from the Sierra foothills. The ‘03 Seghesio $24 was good but so are the offerings from Flora Springs $13 reliably good at about half the price. From Lockeford, the ‘03 Macchia, Harmonious $14 is a very good sangiovese and they make a really good nebbiolo. The ‘02 Showket was highly recommended but I was only able to get the ‘03 for $30 and I was disappointed. A little winery up in the hills of Trinity County made a tasty ‘03 Meredith Family Vineyards $13 but only the ‘03. Most of these are 100% sangiovese, I believe. I like to hunt for Cal-Italian wines, although I mostly drink wines from Italy now. For instance, I got a sangiovese from Le Marche, ‘03 Fazi Battaglia $10.00, that was delicious. Cal sangiovese is some of the most reasonably priced wine produced in the state, but it still costs as much or more than Italian wines after shipping charges from halfway around the world.

              4 Replies
              1. re: BN1

                Hi, I think a lot of the Paso wineries that use Sangiovese are using it in blends, but Tobin James & Eberle produce Sangioveses (Eberle's is sold out).

                1. re: LANative

                  Have you tasted Martin & Weyrich Sangiovese? Have you tried Caparone Sangiovese or Nebbiolo? I’ve been planning a trip to Paso Robles to seek Cal-Italian wines, so I would appreciate any info.

                  1. re: BN1

                    I have had Caparone...it is really good! family style, small and personal tasting 'room' (it's a warehouse). They tout 'non-filtered', which really seemed to make the wines have a more complex taste, especially the aftertaste which was great. The Sangiovese and Nebbiolo were our faves, and for only $14 (last year) it's quite a good deal IMO. AFA Italian reds, Caparone is a real gem!

                    Haven't had M & W...we've heard good things but since there's so many choices in the area we tend to stay away from the larger places.

                    Doce Robles made a good Barbera a year ago.

                    All in all, we've had more luck finding good wines on the west side. Tobin James, Eos, et al just didn't do much for us, but things may have changed in a few years I dunno.

                    1. re: BN1

                      Keep in mind that everything is relative -- that is, it's all based on one's personal palate preferences.

                      Caparone began in 1978, and I gave up on their wines in the late 1980s, having never found a single one to my liking. That said, I've also had no desire to try any more of them based on that experience -- there are too many other wines out there to waste my time/money on wines I didn't like. Perhaps (hopefully) they're much better now than they were 20 years ago . . . .