I have rarely been wowed by California or even North America Sangiovese. I think the struggle for Sangiovese is where to grow it and equally importantly how to vinify it.
I recall listening to a California wine maker who producing Italian varieties and I remember their comment was he said he “I cannot make Sangiovese in an Italian style…. my customers probably wouldn’t buy it.” There is some expectation is for dark brooking fruit forward wine Sangiovese versus a Chianti-style Sangiovese. An Italian style might be less fruit forward–perhaps like a tart early season cherry palate.
But I think there is another way to balance out Sangiovese–make them insofar as wines that reflect where the fruit is coming from and not make them into a Bordeaux style wine that often thought of as being the only great wines.
Who would want to do that anyway?
There are so many ways of making a Sangiovese but a compelling way is to let the grape express itself but not overly so.
I was fortunate to meet Ben Silver at Family Winemakers 2018 Grand Tasting in San Francisco. I love talking to wine makers–I want their point of view and passion. Ben Silver is a a winemakers winemaker. I appreciate his viewpoint and his expression in a bottle. While he does produce stellar Sangiovese he also produces fantastic Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. While there is Sangiovese in California, Washington, New Mexico, Texas and other states. Sangiovese in general has not had the applauds as say the Burgundian or Bordeaux varieties.
California has Sangiovese planted in Northern and Southern California as well as the Foothills. Sangiovese in my opinion is hard to get right outside of Italy. Ben Silver shows that a great Sangiovese wines can be made in California.
Benjamin Silver Saviezza Santa Barbara County Sangiovese 2010
95% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is not labelled a Sangiovese but has full right to labelled as such. Saviezza from the Italian means knowledge.
An homage to Chianti Classico–delicate and the age of 8 years in the bottle proves a harmonious wine–elegant and while an homage to Chianti Classico it is a sterling wine representing the fruit of Santa Barbara County.
Benjamin Silver Oak Savanna Vineyard Santa Barbara County Sangiovese 2013
Benjamin Silver Oak Savanna Vineyard Santa Barbara County Trentotto File 2010
This wine is 91% Syrah, 4% Mourvedre, 3% Grenache and 2% Viogonier
Benjamin Silver Oak Savanna Vineyard Santa Barbara County 724 Reddick Street MV
This wine is 49% Sangiovese, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Mourvedre, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Syrah and 3% Pinot Noir and is composed from vintages of 2010, 2011 and 2013
Benjamin Silver Oak Savanna Vineyard Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 2013
Benjamin Silver Oak Savanna Vineyard Santa Barbara County Cabernet Franc
This Cabernet Franc is a composition of 77% Cabernet Franc, 14% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot.
I like the common theme of Sangiovese to tie and bind together many of Ben’s wines – the Saviezza, the Cabernet Franc and 724 Reddick Street. Each wine is superbly lifted in terms of variety characterization and blend. Thoughtful and complex and sophisticated wines expressing county of origin.
All of Ben’s wines are well priced ranging from Viognier $16 to Pinot Noir Cuvee Leah Mae for $56.00
Website: Silver Wines
James the Wine Guy
Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.
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