Note the suggestive dribbles on the Sangiovese label.
My brother Mark, the "groundskeeper" for YourGardenShow.com, just celebrated his birthday with friends and family. I don't know much about the wine scene in Des Moines, but I suspect this party ranked at the top of the charts for scarcity and yumminess and Napa Valley style. Mark's art historian wife Loulou and I are responsible for the presence of the Villa Ragazzi Sangiovese at this grand event, but the Dollarhide Cabernet (in my former life I was CEO of St. Supéry) arrived with a discerning guest. An odd coincidence: two days ago we opened a bottle of that same vintage of Dollarhide Cab here in Napa Valley, just for the heck of it. The psychic celebration vibes must have been thrumming.
Our friends Tucker and Anita came over last night to taste the 2009 Villa Ragazzi Sangiovese, laden with gifts. Spicey homemade pickles, nectarine preserves, a lovely galette made with their own organic apples (this after Anita had spent all day putting up gallons of applesauce) and, best of all, an older Napa Valley Sangiovese. Never able to resist odious comparisons, we dived into the cellar and came up with one of our last bottles of 1998 Villa Ragazzi Sangiovese to taste against their La Sirena 1998. La Sirena is Heidi Barrett's label, and Tucker had grown the grapes in a vineyard very close to the Rodeno vineyard. Both wines were 100% Sangiovese, a rarity in these parts.
So...which wine won? The usual affirmation of victory, the first completely drained bottle, was not available as this was rather a decorous tasting. I even took notes. Here's a photo of the still-unfinished bottles from last night, just to prove that we were paying attention.
Both wines were in exceptionally good shape, and quite different. La Sirena still showed some fruit and was quite smooth and easy to drink, with a nice bit of grip remaining on the finish. Villa Ragazzi showed more bottle bouquet and deeper color; it still has plenty of structure and could age longer. It would have been interesting to blend the two, but we didn't think of that.
We all enjoyed the 2009 Villa Ragazzi, of course. It was just right with marinated, grilled flank steak. Check Eating/Drinking for the marinade recipe.
Full disclosure: before the tasting we enjoyed a 10-year old bottle of Mumm DVX, a nostalgic choice because Tucker had planted that special vineyard for Guy Devaux. It was lovely, too. Oh, and some 2010 St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc. The galette was delicious.