Tomorrow is Halloween.
I've been walking/jogging by this oak tree on the edge of a neighbor's vineyard for years, and always regret not having a camera with me. So today I put my iPhone in my pocket, hopped on the mountain bike and tore off to get a photo of this Ichabod Crane-worthy spooky tree to enhance everyone's Oct 31 mood. Boo!
Since we never get treat-or-treaters out here in the middle of the Napa Valley, our plan for tomorrow night is to - what else? - open a bottle of Sangiovese and enjoy it with pasta topped with fresh tomato sauce (the last heirlooms and basil from my garden). Adult candy?
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.
Creating a website has been an adventure for this low-tech person. (I'm being nice.)
Since you've met the rest of the Rodenos, it's time to introduce myself. I'm Michaela. In spite of my name, I am Italian only by association with Gregory; ancestors make him 75% Italian. We married and eventually produced two great kids, Kate and John, both born here in Napa Valley. Even as a ragazzi John always loved wine; Kate likes it but usually prefers beer.
Back to me. I've had a wonderful career in the wine business, having been instrumental in creating two significant winery startups: Domaine Chandon in 1973, and St. Supéry in 1988. I retired in mid-2009 to devote myself to family, friends, tennis, gardening, and maybe even an insider's book about the last 40 years in the wine industry. Although I'm still thinking about it, the book is on hold now that I find myself back in harness, working to bring our family wine venture, Villa Ragazzi, to market. The internet, social media, no staff, no millions to invest -- launching a winery is very different this time around, but it's still fun!