• Two Thumbs Way Up
• Rich aromas of fresh-crushed black cherry, light brown spices, a touch of plum and dry orange zest. Loads of black cherry flavor accented by notes of toasted almond, red apple skin, spicy cinnamon and a vanilla-like taste reminiscent of cream soda.
A recent conversation with a colleague of mine went something like this:
Me: You ever had decent American sangiovese?
Him: No. There is no such thing.
Me: You ever have a Niner Sangiovese from Paso Robles?
Him: Well…maybe that one.
And he, of course, was right, if not a bit overstated.
Niner is a relatively new winery (first vintage in 2004) located in Paso Robles, which is about equidistant from Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is probably better known for its Fog Catcher wine, a proprietary blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. A lovely wine, but at 550 cases produced it is a little on the rare, hard-to-find side and not particularly cheap ($58).
The sangiovese is a bit more abundant and slightly more affordable at $24. To say it is a delicious interpretation of sangiovese is not exactly correct either. With a powerful 5 percent dollop of cabernet sauvignon, it is more like a scrumptious version of a Super Tuscan.
Gil Kulers is a certified wine educator with the Society of Wine Educators and teaches in-home wine classes. You can reach him at Gil.Kulers@WineKulers.com.
(Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from thumbs down, one thumb mostly up, one thumb up, two thumbs up, two thumbs way up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.)