Sangiovese is a red Italian wine grape variety that derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jupiter”. In Italy it is “the wine” of Tuscany and Chianti regional wines. In fact it is Italy’s number one most planted grape at 250,000 acres. That in comparison to all of California which has 1,392 acres planted and only 17 acres in Alameda County, where Cuda Ridge Wines is located in Livermore.
Sangiovese is a chameleon grape which takes on very different characteristics based on the terrior. Typically Sangiovese is dry but can have an edge of sweetness, can range from light to medium-bodied and leans towards mouth puckering acidity with strong tannins. Obviously perfect with Italian dishes with tomato based sauces, mushrooms, sausages and various cuts of red meat.
The Winery – Cuda Ridges Wines
There is a lot to be said about Cuda Ridge Wines in Livermore, California. A key point is that they produce Bordeaux style wines. The Cuda Ridge Wines and Tasting Room are located at 2400 Arroyo Road in Livermore, California. Cuda Ridge Wines current production is approximately 2100 cases. Cuda Ridge Wines produces the following Bordeaux varietals: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and most recently their addition of Carménère. Always experimenting, Larry Dino owner & winemaker will produce non-Bordeaux style wines which are designated under their Black label, including Sangiovese, New-World style Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and a blend. Each of the varietals produced are small lots ranging from 100 – 450 cases. Cuda Ridge Wines does extensive blending of the varietals and strives for lower alcohol wines with intense complexity and character, traditional of the Bordeaux style wines.
Cuda Ridge Wines 2020 Sangiovese
This Sangiovese reminds me of a dark figure lurking in the background. Not sinister, but obscure and mysterious. This stranger waiting to come out at the appropriate time to be introduced. Admittedly having tasted many Sangiovese wines while vacationing in Tuscany and at home, I always felt they were a bit too reserved and subtle (with the exception of Super Tuscans). Not the case with this bold and gracious wine.
First on the eyes, this dark brick and ruby red wine fascinates you with its coloring. Then with a medium to medium-heavy viscosity. The tasting then continued to discover the secret to Cuda Ridge Wines Sangiovese. On the nose old world rustic aromas wafted into the senses with cherry, roasted pepper & tomato and an earthy herbal quality. On the palate, fruits of cherries, strawberries, ripe plum and dried herbs swirled in the mouth. On the finish a distinct soft tobacco or smoke from an open fire were present along with aged leather. The tannins were defined and present but not jagged or sharp. The acidity was slightly less typical of Sangiovese but still with sufficient acidity which is one of Larry’s goal in making this wine. Made with 100% American oak barrels and it will be released in November 5th to club members at $38/bottle. A slightly different wine than Tuscan Sangiovese but with punch and so pleasing to the soul.
The Food and Wine Pairing
A special treat last evening with a homemade Salsa di Pomodoro which my wife made from scratch taking six hours to simmer and maturate. The tomato based sauce included Italian plum tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, chopped onion, shredded carrots, chopped celery, fresh bay leaves, whole cloves of garlic, ground beef & pork and crushed hot red peppers. This poured over spaghetti pasta was a treat all by itself. Topped off with shaved Parmesan cheese. Then add the 2020 Cuda Ridge Wine Sangiovese with its acidity charging thru the tomato base sauce and embracing each bite, this was a heavenly match for the evening.