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Festive sparklers make for happy Thanksgiving

December 7, 2015

I hope all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Chez McD was festive. We started off with a trio of sparklers. Villa Sandi Prosecco Il Fresco DOC was pale straw-colored, with small effervescent bead, opened to floral nose with some ripe apple in the background.. Finishes fruity but clean and dry. The second was Mionetto Prosecco Brut DOC from Treviso. Another light straw bubbly but with more apple aroma. Acid balances fruit with a dry finish. Served as an aperitif and don’t worry, there were six of us and none were driving. Both those wines can be found locally under $12. This is a step down from the DOCGs of last week. I recommend paying up to $18 for the third wine, Mionetto Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG, which accompanied lobster bisque. Bright summer straw-colored with the typical floral nose. On the palate, apple and pear with a clean, long finish that was a terrific complement to cream soup. As an aside and maybe impossible to still find, I remember the Sandi Opere Riserva 2003 made methode champenoise. This wine spent five years on lees in barriques, and it's creamy, almond, toasty, yeasty with a beautiful, juicy lemon palate, finishing long with nuts and cream nuance. I sampled these in 2010 and still remember. Yummy and was in the $25 range. If you have a very good wine store pal perhaps he will find some, 92 points McD.

On Saturday we sampled a couple of Italian reds with salsa and chips followed by fajitas. Both were from Antonelli. Rosso Montefalco 2010 is blended of Sangiovese, Sagrantino and Merlot, with dark fruit on the palate followed by a long finish with moderate tannins. A decent 87-point wine for $16. I really did not pair this well. Garnacha or Zin? Nice for pasta marinara or maybe hard Italian cheeses.

The San Marco Chiusa di Pannone Sagrantino DOCG 2006 and 2007, I bought six each of both on spec for $37 in 2012 on a Suckling 93 points for the 2006. He was accurate. Initially I was unsure due to the high level of tannins but the intense red fruit, plums, spice, and a touch of herbs and leather plus the acidity balance persuaded. The 2006 is delicious and should continue to improve. If you followed my recommendation here, drink the 2007 during the next year. It isn't reaching my expectations.

Switching gears, Leese-Fitch 2014 is a blend of 95 percent Chardonnay, 3.5 percent French Columbard and 1.5 percent of Viognier, from The Other Guys. It has 13.5 percent alcohol and 3.2 g/l residual sugar, which is dry (variable 1-5g/L, since certain sugars such as pentose won’t ferment so never 0). This number is not an exact reference point for dry wine because wine with very high acid can have more sugar, yet appear dry due to balancing. It is a fairly good bellwether for novice buyers, since some producers include acidity and residual sugar numbers on their labels. The value with Leese-Fitch comes through with rich body and vanilla, golden color, apple, citrus and spice plus a smooth, balanced finish. It's surprising to find great QPR like this that has spent five months in new French oak.

Thanks, Mr. Sebastiani. I also sampled the 2013's complex bouquet of apple, citrus and tangerine run to the palate, with added fillips of lime and tropical fruit.

I really enjoy writing of Sebastiani wines. Although the family has divided recently, the original winery was among the first places Barbara and I visited on our first California trip in 1976. I can still smell the eucalyptus from the huge trees lining the avenues, and there I finally understood how the wine gains nuance from the surrounding flora and the soil. The olive flavors that the huge redwood vats provided were unmistakable.

How many of you winos reading here are aware that the patriarch of the Sebastiani family in the USA, Samuele Sebastiani, made his mark by building some of the original cobblestone streets in San Francisco, then founding the winery with a 500-gallon vat?

His son August took the reins and grew the winery into the over 250,000 case/year level by the 1970s. I believe The Other Guys’ August is the great-grandson.


Email John McDonald at chjonmc@yahoo.com.