Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Muscardini Cellars: Grand Sonoma Reds With Italian Twist

Italian heritage and Sonoma Valley credentials equal an exceptional experience for our wine tasting team.

Sonoma Road Trip

Sometime the best tasting room visits are the result of serendipity. During our recent trip to Sonoma, we were racing from one compass point to the other due to our schedule and far-flung appointments.

After breaking for lunch in the Kenwood area on the Sonoma Highway, we spied the Muscardini tasting room. I’ve seen Muscardini offered for sale on some of my favorite online wine sites, but always hesitated. Now was my chance!

Although the first Muscardini vintage was 2005, the story begins with Emilio Alchera who immigrated from Italy’s Piemonte region in 1909. He earned a living running corner grocery stores in California where he sold fine bulk wine. In his spare time he made a red table wine for his family.

His business would eventually become the St. Helena Napa Valley Wine Company. Grandson Michael Muscardini owned and managed a construction company for more than two decades. In 2000 he planted his first Sangiovese grapes and decided to continue and expand his grandfather’s winemaking ways.

Haven For Artisan Red Wines

If you go to Muscardini expecting to taste through a wide selection of white wine, you’d be mistaken. You’ll find a Pinot Grigio or a rosé, perhaps, but Muscardini is focused on the pleasure of drinking wine – more specifically, really good red wine! For our band of six tasters, there was no better scenario.

We opened with wine for which Muscardini is most known: Sangiovese. The 2014 Unti Vineyard Sangiovese is lush with bright flavors of red fruit and nutmeg. The 2012 Pauli Ranch Barbera, Redwood Valley, is from Mendocino County and was rated a top notch wine by our group. It has complex flavors of plum, cherry and herbs.

Moving from the classic tasting list to the reserve list, we sipped the 2014 Alice’s Vineyard Sangiovese. This wine is “bigger” than the Unti Vineyard Sangio, with vibrant acidity and beautiful cranberry notes. Muscardini, we decided, is a Sangiovese lover’s dream.

A Real Tesoro

Tesoro means “treasure” in Italian and, we found the 2012 Tesoro to be just that. It is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Syrah and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a well balanced wine with brambly, dark fruit flavors. This library vintage retails for $85 and the 2015 vintage goes for $52.

The tasting experience finished up with two memorable wines. The 2014 Cassata Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon  is a full-bodied wine with 5% Merlot. The “over the moon” wine for us was the 2013 Rancho Salina, Moon Mountain. It’s a Bordeaux-style blend with 66% Merlot and 34% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is incredibly smooth with notes of cocoa and dark berries. A total winner at $65 SRP.

Muscardini Cellars creates masterworks of wine. For lovers of Sangiovese and bold red blends, this is a supreme stop on the Sonoma wine trail.

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