Unti Vineyards is located in the Sonoma Valley, specifically in the Dry Creek Valley. The Unti Vineyards is owned and operated by Mick, Danae, George and Linda Unti. Mick manages all the winemaking, sales and marketing for the winery. Jason Valenti performs the winemaking tasks. The vineyards were planted in 1990 and the winery opened in 1997. Today they produce approximately 8,000 to 9,000 cases annually from their estate of 60 acres. The vineyards are planted with 35 acres of Syrah, Zinfandel, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, Barbera, Montepulciano, Lacrima, Fiano, Verdicchio, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul Blanc and Vermentino. The Benchland property is 25 acres and planted with Zinfandel, Syrah, Sangiovese, Aglianico, Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre and Grenache Noir.
With such a broad offering of Mediterranean style wines, each small batch is handcrafted to bring forth a sense of place. They use a combination of stainless steel, concrete tanks, large French oak ovals and small French oak barrels. Truly an artisan winery.
The 2017 Syrah uses three blocks in the vineyard for their production release. Combining the three allows more “cool-climate aromas and flavors (blueberry, olive) reminiscent of the Northern Rhône wines Crozes-Hermitage and St. Joseph” per their website. First on the eyes, a dark radiant and iridescent purple/violet coloring in the glass with medium heavy viscosity. On the nose, blackberry and blueberry aromas waft into the senses. Once sipped, jammy fruit and lightly toasted oak fill the mouth with secondary flavors of cranberry and plum. The finish completes the tasting with multi-layers of freshness, coupled with structure and pointed, but not sharp tannins. The fruit with the most welcomed tannins came from a portion of the wine which received a whole-cluster fermentation. The wine was aged in only French oak, 35% being new for 13 months. Current release is the 2018 which 470 cases were produced and shows on their website at $38/bottle.
The Food and Wine Pairing
Dinner with this wine was a special Carne Asada. The ingredients included, fresh chopped cilantro, olive oil, soy sauce, fresh squeezed orange and lime juice, minced garlic cloves, a diced jalapeno, ground cumin, Kosher salt, ground black pepper marinated for 24 hours with a flank steak. The steak was seared at 650 degrees for about 5 minutes a side along with jalapeno peppers roasting on top of the steak. Topped off with fresh minced cilantro and a modicum of fresh squeezed lime juice. Accompanying the meal was Mexican street corn off the cob. Ingredients included unsalted butter, ears of corn (shucked and kernels removed), mayonnaise, grated cotija cheese, smoked paprika, green onion finely chopped, fresh parsley and seasoned to taste with salt & pepper. Cooked in a cast iron skillet to a light charred finished.
The Carne Asada was flavorful and spicy without being too red-hot! A drizzle of fresh squeezed lime juice topped off the meat along with the bbq’ed jalapeno. This is now one of our go to summer food pairings. This wine received one of my highest scores ever given to a Syrah! It will definitely make my “Best Wines Tasted This Year” (comes out each December) in 2022.
I have not visited or tasted any of the other Unti Vineyards wines, but look forward at some point to tasting their Aglianico, Petit Sirah and Picpoul Blanc. A visit is surely on my near term calendar!