The Tasting Panel magazine

Oct 09

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Page 65 of 92

october 2009 / the tasting panel /  65 E ach autumn, the end of winegrowing season is marked by the noticeable scent of fresh-picked grapes and the growing anticipation of the finished wines that will represent the beauties of the vintage. In southern Sonoma County, no one knows this better than the Sangiacomos, a multi-generational family known for its hands-on approach to farming, with 1,600 acres of vineyards in Carneros, Sonoma Val- ley and Sonoma Coast. Emigrants from Genoa, Italy, Vittorio and Maria San- giacomo purchased the original 120-acre Home Ranch property, south of the historic town of Sonoma, in 1927. After establishing a reputation for growing delicious pears, apples and prunes, the family planted its first vineyard in 1969. Over the next 25 years, the Sangiacomos continually updated their farming practices and elevated the quali- ty of grapes at each new site they developed. Today, the lessons learned have been passed down to the third generation—Michael and wife Whitney, Steve and wife Connie and Mia and her husband Mike Pucci—who now run the Sangiacomo Family Vineyards operations on a day-to-day basis. Through the years, recognizable clients have includ- ed David Ramey, Jed Steele, Joel Peterson and many other talented winemakers who moved up the ranks from cellar rats to superstars by making classy, limited- release wines from these pristine vineyards. With large, diverse vineyards that can be thought of as the Bien Nacido of the north, the Sangiacomo family works with many special blocks of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah, in addition to being known for growing world-class Chardonnay fruit. Currently, more than 70 clients purchase fruit from the family, and more than 30 make vineyard designates labeled Sangiacomo Vine- yard. Here are some delicious red wines made with Sangiacomo fruit to look for this fall: Mia's Playground 2006 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($24) Lovely notes of rose petals, raspberry, Bing cherry, cinnamon, vanilla and vibrant acidity. Hands down, a great value for classy Pinot Noir. Sojourn 2007 Pinot Noir, Roberts Road Ranch, So- noma Coast ($48) Weighty Pinot Noir with rich flavors of wild berry, ripe cherry, cola and spice. Elegance, power and finesse—all in one bottle! Tandem 2006 Pinot Noir, Roberts Road Ranch, Sonoma Coast ($48) Complex wine with lovely flavors of ripe berry, plum, and a gamey note that winemaker Greg La Follette refers to as "sauvage et animale" with a sassy French accent. MacPhail 2007 Pinot Noir, Roberts Road Ranch, Sonoma Coast ($60) Made by talented winemaker James MacPhail, this sexy combo of Dijon clones 115 and 777 features dense flavors of ripe blackberry, cherry, earth and lovely nuances of fine French oak. Ravenswood 2005 Merlot, Carneros ($30) Elegant Merlot with complex aromas of violet and blueberry, flavors of ripe blackberry and cherry, balanced tannins, and plenty of structure. Lovely on the palate but also very ageworthy. Neyers 2007 Syrah, Old Lakeville Road, Sonoma Coast ($33) Exotic style of syrah loaded with concen- trated flavors of ripe boysenberry, huckleberry, black pepper and layers of spice. Bold and beautiful! World-class grapes from Sangiacomo Family Vineyards are in demand Green Acres in Sonoma story and photo by Christopher Sawyer Steve Sangiacomo at his family's Catarina Ranch property. Sonoma

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