Falling in Love with Ancient Italy

ETRUSCANS – The Banqueters of Ancient Italy 

By Lisa C. Pieraccini, Ph.D, UC Berkeley

 

Dario & lisa- VSattui
Dario Sattui & Lisa C. Pieraccini

As an archaeologist of Ancient Italy, I know what it means to work on the land (or literally, in the dirt). I spent my childhood growing up in Sonoma County where we often had family gatherings at a wonderful little winery in St. Helena (with picnic benches out in front). That special place was the V. Sattui Winery. Years later, I found myself pursuing a Ph.D. in the field of classical archaeology, with special emphasis on the Etruscans and Romans.

My career took me to Italy where I lived for many years teaching and conducting research at some of Italy’s finest museums and archaeological sites. My Italian family left Italy at the turn of the twentieth century to avoid digging ditches, to make a new life, only to have their great-granddaughter go back to Italy to do just that! I now teach at UC Berkeley where I specialize in Etruscan and early Roman art and archaeology, with a special interest in funerary rituals, Etruscan and Roman wall painting, Etruscan eating and drinking utensils, as well as the ritual and secular consumption of food and wine. I am the Project Director of the Del Chiaro Center for Ancient Italian Studies at UC Berkeley where our mission is to preserve the future of Italy’s past.

To this end, it gives me great pleasure to return to the winery where my family gathered many years ago to eat and drink, to contextualize how the ancient people of Italy, namely, the Etruscans did the same.

Etruscan-VSattui
Michelin Star Chef Stefano Masanti

Please join me at V. Sattui Winery on Sunday, September 10th from 11:30 am – 3:00 pm for a fascinating look at the Etruscan culture followed by a luncheon created by Michelin Star Chef Stefano Masanti, who will bring the Etruscan culture to life through his cuisine.

Seats are limited! Tickets are available here.

 

 

Sattui Sonoma: Alongside Napa on the map and beyond

V. Sattui’s Sonoma County Jewels.

 

sonoma-county-vineyard

In today’s world, anyone who attempts to rank either Napa or Sonoma County as one better than the other is seriously misinformed. At V. Sattui, we have long been aware of the jewels that Sonoma County possess and we access tons of grapes for our top, premium wines from extraordinary vineyard sites in a number of Sonoma’s distinctive sub-appellations.

It is a cooler region than Napa because of its closer proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the topography diverts, channels and segments maritime penetration in such a way that exceptional – even somewhat magical – growing sites are created in the various nooks and crannies of the Sonoma hills and mountains.  Another dimension is the wide array of soils from the Rock Pile Appellation – which is what the name suggests – to the sandy alluvial soils along the Russian River to the calcium carbonate (read chalk) found in Chalk Hill Appellation.  These phenomena combine to create a wider impact from AVA to AVA (American Viticultural Area or BATF approved Appellation) and a wider diversity of varietals suited to those micro-regions.

Growers in Sonoma County have sensed these unique conditions by planting accordingly in these micro-climates. As a result, the wines they produce have become very terroir driven and display a developed a sense of area identity. Russian River Pinot Noir, for example has an identifiable profile as does Dry Creek Zinfandel and so on.  This, of course, leads me to our Sonoma County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as a couple of our Flagship Sonoma Zinfandels.

2015 Sonoma County Chardonnay:2015-Sonoma-Chardonnay2015-Sonoma-County-Pinot-Noir The Bella Vista Vineyard lies just a few hundred yards from the Napa Line in the northern part of the Mayacamas Mountain Range. These eastern slopes are noted growing areas for Chardonnay.  This vineyard is on the crown of the mountain where there is always a lot of air movement and abundant sunshine above the fog level. The soil is clay loam with tons of gravel.  Simply put, it’s everything a Chardonnay vine would like.

2015 Sonoma County Pinot Noir:  This wine is beyond the Carneros Appellation (Sonoma side), which borders San Pablo Bay. It is literally in the Bay on Skagg’s Island (along with the Coast Guard).  Talk about bathing this varietal with the cool air it loves.  And, here’s a twist:  This vineyard belongs to Reynaldo Robledos and his family. He is the first Mexican immigrant field worker to own and operate a winery with vineyards in the U.S. (350 acres).  Not enough can be said for his dedication, passion and just plain, hard work. We have a special sensitivity toward immigrants, as we salute the Sattui Family’s journey from Italy to California with a special wine called La Merica.

2013 Gilsson Zinfandel2015-Russian-River-Zinfandel2014 Russian River Zinfandel: A prime example of what this region can produce.  A finger of fog follows the river inland, permeating and expanding over its banks long before the larger area is encompassed.  This provides nice heat during the day which Zinfandel requires as well as an extraordinary diurnal temperature range of 35° to 40° (temps between day and night).  This locks acids and flavors into the fruit which are showcased well in this wine.

2013 Gilsson Vineyard Zinfandel: Gilsson Vineyard fruit grows in the eastern reaches of the Russian River Valley; in the “elbow” of a neighboring Sonoma appellation – Chalk Hill.  From a drone’s eye, one can actually see bands of chalk striating throughout the hill. The combination of the Valley’s cool climate, quick drainage from the chalk and nutrient bound clay, causes the vine to struggle to produce its fruit. The end result is a wine with amplified notes of fruit, framed in depth and structure.

Care to sample these Sattui Sonoma jewels?

Now through August 15th, enjoy $1 Ground Shipping on all mix-or-match cases of the four Sonoma County wines listed above!  Receive 15% OFF 1 case and 20% OFF 2 or more cases.

 

The Art of Blending

A vital step in the winemaking process, blending assures the final product will be balanced and layered with flavorful, aromatic, and textural complexities. At V. Sattui, this process is being brought to life on a regular basis with their blending seminar. Discover the art of blending and get ready for an experience of a lifetime!

What is blending? Exactly what it sounds like. A team of winemakers gathers during the winemaking process to blend various varietals. The reason? To determine which components to bring to the overall blend, and to ensure the stylistic goals and consistency that the wine consumer is looking for, and pull all the pieces together. More specifically, blending allows winemakers to: Create a recognizable house-style; minimize undesirable components; enhance desirable components; highlight a vineyard’s terroir; improve vintage consistency, and “up-blend” to enhance the wine uniqueness and overall high quality.

The possibilities with blending are endless, and the key is consistency.

How-to

 

Jose and Nayely in lab- edited

Grab your goggles and suit up, it’s time to play mad-scientist! While the art of blending wine does have a scientific approach, the rules are rather simple.

  1. Always have a goal in mind (ex. correcting a wine with too much tannin by blending in a lower tannin wine: or conversely, build intensity in a wine by using a blending component that adds to the structure and richness (for example Petite Verdot).
  2. Typically we blend wines of a similar type (Bordeaux with Bordeaux, Rhone with Rhone, etc.).
  3. By blending a high-quality wine with a weaker wine you can increase the quality of the lower wine, but what are you giving up in return? It is better to classify the components by quality and grade, and blend like-qualities.
  4. Begin blending in small quantities until you reach the desired outcome
  5. Take notes!

Once you think you have achieved the “ideal blend,” it’s time for the next step…

Blind Tasting

 

1After each winemaker puts together his or her sample blend, it’s time to taste test.

Why blind? Everyone’s palate is different, and whether we like to admit it or not, everyone is partial to their blend. A crucial moment in winemaking, it’s time to leave your ego behind. After multiple tasting rounds, discussing the good, the bad, and what might be missing, a unified sense of direction blossoms. After all, the goal is to make the wine the best it can be.

Once a decision and final blend are agreed upon, it’s back to the cellar. The barrels of wine have to be blended precisely the same way as in the lab.

Common Blends

Ali Fave1

A common misconception that “blends” are of lesser quality is just that, a misunderstanding. To help you navigate the shelves, some of the most common blends include:

  1. Bordeaux

Arguably one of the most typical blends around the world; the red Bordeaux blend consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Flavors vary depending on the area and proportion of grape varietals used in the blend. On the left bank, higher amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon are added, making the wine more structured with higher tannins. On the right bank, wineries will add more Merlot and Cabernet Franc for a softer, more supple wine which might require less aging.

  1. Meritage

A Bordeaux-style blend, Meritage blends are created from French varietals grown in the New World wine regions, especially California. A red Meritage blend will generally consist of the classic Bordeaux combination: Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot (with hints of Carménère and Petit Verdot). Meritage wines can also be a white blend, for example, blending Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc together. Meritage blends are known for their versatility in the sense that they can be enjoyed young but also stand up to aging.

  1. Rhone Blends

In the Rhone River Valley of France, it is typical to blend several varietals together, such as Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre to make a complex red wine blend. These wines are very interesting and the contribution from each varietal adds complexity, aromas, and flavors to the finished wine.

Are you ready to blend?

V. Sattui

Have you always dreamed of becoming a winemaker? Making dreams come true, V. Sattui Winery invites you to our hands-on workshop August 12th to learn the magic of blending. An intimate seminar, this is your chance to create your own blend in an effort to match our prestigious Bordeaux blend, Paradiso.

Seats are limited, so grab a friend and reserve your blending experience today!

 

Call (707) 963-7774 or Book Online