What do these wines have in common?
Gregory Rodeno guest blogs the story of Villa Ragazzi Sangiovese’s grandfathers.
Maynard Monaghan had graduated from UC Davis in enology in the early 1930’s, and was managing the Beaulieu Vineyards tasting room when he gave Michaela her first job in the wine business in 1972. “Uncle Maynard” was a charming eccentric, distinguished by his befuddled mien and shambling gait.
I considered it an honor to be invited to go with him to Forestville to pick up his allotment of Joseph Swan Zinfandel.
In its just-published spring 2012 issue, the magazine of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, provides a guide to Napa and Sonoma wineries led by Haas alums. Villa Ragazzi is there, and your editor (MBA 1980) is also mentioned as having been a leader at St. Supéry. We're in good company, with Cakebread, Hall and Duckhorn listed, among others. Come on up to Napa Valley, all you wine-loving Haas students and alums!
St. Supery 1999 Limited Edition Rutherford. Period.
To prove that we drink wines other than Sangiovese here's the evidence from last night's cellar selection, served with rare ribeyes and grilled mushrooms. There's a story behind this unique label, as it represents one of many blending debates won by winemaker Michael Scholz. We had a Limited Edition Rutherford Cabernet label ready for this wine, but Scholzie was unwilling to add 2% more to the blend to make it a legal (75% minimum) Cabernet. This label, created just for the 1999 Rutherford not-quite-Cabernet, has never been used again. Scholzie must have been right, because the wine is still delicious -- rich and chocolately, with fine tannins and lush fruit.
Traci Dutton, wine director of the Wine Spectator Greystone restaurant in St. Helena, found "blueberry notes" in our Sangiovese. This is most unusual, since Sangiovese usually presents red fruit characters, notably dried cherries and sometimes even strawberries. I am charmed by her description, almost as much as my husband is by Catherine Deneuve purring she loooves blueberries.
I'm so excited! Tomorrow I do my first ever staff training for Villa Ragazzi, and it's at Brassica
Bobcat is in the triangle of light at center of photo.
As soon as the resident bobcat strolled by our newly ripped vineyard-to-be again this evening, our winery cat Lira started asking to go outdoors to play. She's not very bright. She does catch the occasional gopher and plenty of mice, and she purrs loudly, so we keep feeding/petting her anyway. Fortunately for Lira, the bobcat prefers the multitudinous jackrabbits in the vineyard at Villa Ragazzi or she would have been toast already. Do you think we could get him interested in gophers, too?
Bobcat on a mission: find dinner!
There he goes into the vineyard at twilight, offering a fine sight of his bob tail as he zeros in his rabbity prey. He's one strong-looking dude, and I'm grateful he's not any larger since I have to go outside to cover up the Meyer lemons - we're expecting another cold night. I need to get a new iPhone - the photo opportunities around here are just too good to waste.
37 years + flood = no problem
A reliable winner is Sangiovese plus mushrooms, so we planned to serve Villa Ragazzi with an experimental mushroom ragout on soft polenta last night. However, our oenophile son John was here for dinner; having developed a taste for wines older than he is, he opted for the 1976 Joseph Swan Zinfandel that had survived the great flood of 1986 in our cellar. Joe would have been proud. The wine was outstanding, as was the ragout. But those chanterelles! At $50/lb, paying was pure pain. I could bring myself to buy only 3 oz, filling in with reconstituted dried porcini, criminis, buttons and portobellos. Friends who know mushrooms recommend morels, oysters and shitakes as a good substitutes for chanterelles. This vegetarian dish is a keeper, with its rather flexible recipe posted in "Enjoy" on our website. Caution: a bit of butter is involved.