VinoWeek - Episode 44 - Winter Rains End California's Drought

The final week of February 2019 was a disaster for Sonoma County residents and for business owners in the recently developed Barlow center in Sebastopol, California. The Russian River Valley suffered some of its worst flooding in decades. Bill and I both live in Sebastopol and we have a lively discussion about the floods and what the future holds for the affected areas. Brent Young writes an article to explain how vineyards are impacted during winter flooding. The interstate battles between California and Oregon vintners continue as Solidarity of Oregon has prompted Eric Cohen, owner of Justice Grace Vineyards to bring his attorney into the fray. Australia is hot. What type of impact is climate change having on this wine growing region? Glyphosate a key ingredient in the weed killer Roundup has been detected (in low levels) in several leading beer and wine brands. Should we be concerned? Bill and I discuss these topics and many more in this weeks addition of VinoWeek. Thanks to everyone for listening. Cheers!

The wine of the week is the 2015 Grattamacco Bolgheri Superiore. The town of Bolgheri, in the province of Livorno, sits at the midpoint of the Tuscan coast. Bolgheri is a relatively new wine area having received its DOC in 1994. Grattamacco was the second winery to be established in this area. The original owner Meletti Cavallari was looking for a fishing retreat with his wife and ended up buying an abandoned farm house with a small vineyard on a hill in Bolgheri. He planted the hill with Cabernet Sauvignon and they released their first wine in 1982. The property was acquired by the Tipa Bertarelli family in 2002. There are 67 acres of vineyards located on a hill between Castagneto Carducci and Bolgheri at around 330 feet above sea level. It’s a maritime climate with frequent sea breezes. The soils are calcareous sandstone, marl and clay and the vines average around 24 years of age. All the grapes are hand harvested, with spontaneous fermentation taking place in open cone shaped vats. The wine spends 21 months in french oak and six additional months aging after bottling. it’s composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Sangiovese.

I must confess I have never been a big fan of “Super Tuscan” wines. No doubt living in Sonoma County and being only a 45 minute drive from Napa Valley has prejudiced my viewpoint. It’s not that I don’t understand Super Tuscan wines or I’m incapable of enjoying them, admittedly I’m a maniac for Tuscan Merlot. It’s primarily is about availability and price points. Good to high quality Super Tuscans are not made in large quantities and they can be very expensive. Although Super Tuscans can be composed predominantly of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Franc or other varietals, I’m referring specifically to Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blends. Having so many wonderful choices for Cabernet/ Cabernet Sauvignon blends in my own back yard at much more favorable pricing, puts Italy’s Super Tuscans a little lower on my buy and try list. I was afforded the opportunity to taste the 2015 Grattamacco at the James Suckling Great Wines of Italy event in San Francisco on March 2nd, 2019 and then again a few days later at the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri San Francisco event. The wine displays black cherry, currant and cedar box aromas on the nose with garrigue lurking in the background. The attack on the palate is strong but the sensation is really one of elegance and silkiness. A slight earthiness, very intriguing, with a good kiss of oak. Full bodied with good concentration and savoriness, the finish is long and satisfying. The wine shows great balance with no rough edges and I suspect that it will age well, although it’s drinking incredibly well now. So if you’re looking for a great splurge candidate this is it. 4,166 cases produced $70 - $100