ON THE ROAD AGAIN IN SONOMA
Sbragia Family Vineyards
You know that old joke – How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice! Well, my goal is to practice my way to the Carnegie Hall for wine tasters… So right after Richard and I left the delightful tastes and tasting room of Thumbprint Cellars, we made our way up Dry Creek Road to the Sbragia Family Vineyards winery and tasting room to continue my practice.
The large modern winery structure sat near the top of the mountain...
... w/ imposing views from the terrace of the vineyards and rolling hills below.
Inside, the tasting room was bright and airy, with colorful art on the walls. My taste buds were ready.
As Sally, our wine specialist, poured our flights she told us a little bit about this family owned vineyard. Ed Sbragia is a third generation vintner. His grandfather immigrated from Tuscany in 1904 and worked at the Italian Swiss Colony winery. But, Ed earned his bones as the wine master for Beringer Vineyards in Napa. Then, in 2001, he decided to create his own label. The family winery facility and tasting room opened in 2006. So, Sbragia is a relatively new arrival on the block.
Our first flight started with a white…
A 2009 Schmidt Ranch sauvignon blanc – Dry Creek Valley ($24). Rated 91 by Robert Parker and 89 by Stephen Tanzer, I’d split the difference and give it a 90. It had a great beat and was easy to dance to!
The 2008 Home Ranch chardonnay, also from Dry Creek Valley vineyards ($26) is aged for ten months - half in new oak barrels and half in old (once used) barrels. Another 89 from Stephen Tanzer and the Wine Spectator, this wine did not race to the finish, but lingered pleasantly, like the end of a satisfying first date when you’re waiting at the door for that good night kiss.
My favorite Sbragia chardonnay was the 2008 Gamble Ranch wine from Napa Valley vineyards ($40). Aged in all new French oak, this was a luscious oak-y wine w/ hints of apples and vanilla. And that oak flavor? Like a French kiss.
Time for the reds in this flight…
We started off w/ the 2008 Home Ranch merlot – Dry Creek Valley ($25) which won the silver medal at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. I like merlot. I liked this wine w/ its subtle tastes of black cheery and brown spices… dark, but not too dark. Call it dusk.
Next up was one of Richard’s favorites at Sbragia, the 2008 Gino’s Vineyard zinfandel – Dry Creek Valley ($30). This wine was rich and husky w/ strong aromas of blackberry and cherries. The ‘husk’ came from a hint of pepper which turned this into a real pepper upper.
The 2008 La Promessa zin – Dry Creek Valley ($32) was rated 90 by Robert Parker and its taste of ripe raspberries had a soft, smooth finish that conjured up visions of sinking into a goose down, velvet duvet, glass of wine in hand.
The second, higher-end flight consisted only of cabernet sauvignons…
First up, the 2008 Andolsen Vineyard cab – Dry Creek Valley ($38)… deep in color, it smelled of ripe fruits, cassis w/ some roses and herbs thrown in, giving us our first taste of a day of wine & roses...
The 2007 Monte Rosso cab from Sonoma Valley ($50) rated 92 by Tanzer and 91 by Parker had delicious flavors of berries and cherries and spices… Oh my!
A high mountain grapes wine, the 2007 Ranch Del Oso cab from the Howell Mountain in Napa ($75) was rated even higher… 94 from Parker and 92 from Tanzer. Rich w/ flavors of black fruits and cherries, this was the winery favorite for both Richard and me.
The 2007 Cimarossa cab, again from Howell Mountain/Napa Valley ($75) also received high marks… 92+ from Parker and 91 from Tanzer… Filled w/ aromas of dark fruit and exotic spices, I closed my eyes and imagined sipping this wine on a galleon in the high seas... perhaps with Jack Sparrow… though Richard might’ve chosen Penelope Cruz... just to discuss the wines, of course!
Last, but not least, we sipped the 2007 Wall Vineyard cab made from grapes from Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley ($75) w/ almost off-the-chart ratings of 96 from Robert Parker, 93 from Stephen Tanzer and 93 from J. Laube of the Wine Spectator. It had a lot to live up to and it did. Another truly delicious wine that left a hint of cocoa powder lingering in my mouth.
Sbragia Family Vineyards may be one of the new kids on the block, but they’re definitely a great neighbor.
My practice over for the day, I looked forward to continuing my journey to the wine tasters’ Carnegie Hall.
9990 Dry Creek Road
Geyserville, CA 95441
Tasting Room open daily: 11am – 5pm
Tasting fee: $5.00, and $10.00 for the cabs