What We Say 2007 Il Chiaretto Sangiovese
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Mission Codename: The Little Red Chair
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red back to Cosentino Winery, a Wine Spies Operative favorite, to secure a Cosentino varietal that we have never investigated before.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Cosentino Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Sangiovese – Il Chairetto
Winemaker: Mitch Cosentino
Winery Backgrounder: Cosentino Winery enjoys the distinction of being one of our top-selling winery of all time. Their wines are varied, distinctive and always delicious. Our favorite Cosentino wines have been their Bordeaux varietals, but today we looked to Mitch’s Sangiovese – and are we glad that we did. Today’s wine is an easy-drinker with old world charm.
Varietal Backgrounder: The most widely planted grape in all of Italy, Sangiovese is used in everything from blended inexpensive table wines like Chianti, to the finest Super Tuscans. Italian immigrants introduced this varietal to the U.S. in the 1800’s. First plantings of this grape in the U.S. were right here in California. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes on this great wine, followed by his mission report, to learn more about today’s old-world-in-California wine.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Intense garnet with ruby and garnet highlights through its clear core. Deep ruby red along the edges and when swirled, tight and evenly spaced medium legs descend to the wine below at varying speeds.
Smell – Bright and youthful in character with bold blackberry, black cherry orange peel leading the way. Just below these, soft herbal, spice and oak components engulf tart red cherry aromas. Hints of earth and subtle floral notes also emerge as the wine opens up.
Feel – Medium to full-bodied, this dry wine is tangy and spicy upon its initial attack. Once it opens and breathes, this wines lively character softens and becomes warm and classically tangy. Lively in its acidity with youthful medium firm tannins that linger into the finish.
Taste – Flavors of hot white pepper layer over red and black cherry along with notes of ripe blackberry, red plum and black cherry with brambly herbs and spice. Wild anise and oak lie just underneath the fruit making their presence known, without overpowering the cherry and spice.
Finish – Medium long in length with its spicy white pepper, herbal bramble and red cherry fruit warmly fading.
Conclusion – A nice pizza wine, with its spicy white pepper, dark fruit, herbal bramble and red cherry fruit. The wine really benefits from decanting, so be sure to allow some time for the wine to really soften and open up as it stretches out in the open air. Like a traditional Italian field-blended table wine, this easy-drinker is a simple wine the delivers an easy old world experience. We really enjoyed the red cherry and earthy, herbal bramble notes. Pair with a homemade pizza or a lively pasta dish.
What follows is a reproduction of my original mission filing, from when we first infiltrated Cosentino Winery:
Cosentino Winery has two important distinctions; First, my favorite wine of all time was made by Mitch Cosentino, head of winemaking for the winery. Second, the Cosentino Winery was the most elusive and difficult to bring into the Wine Spies fold.
I first fell in love with Cosentino wines while on a (very rare for me) vacation. Agent Sparkle and I had just wrapped up a mission in Central America and, with a few days left before we were due to report back in, we decided to head to Costa Rica.
Once checked in to our hotel, Hotel Casa Marella, we decided to go for a swim in the infinity pool. The pool, which overlooked the Pacific Ocean, offered a spectacular view of the ocean and the town below. I was in heaven.
Heaven got even better when Agent Sparkle arrived, a bottle of wine in hand, and a giant smile on her face. It was twilight, so I could not make out the label. She opened the bottle, poured and handed me a glass. I took it eagerly.
On inhaling the wine, I knew that it was not a Chilean wine (the most common wine found in Costa Rica). I also knew that it was an exceptional wine, maybe even a California wine. One sip, and the heaven I was in got even better.
“What’s this,” I asked.
“This? Oh, its just that bottle of Cosentino we’ve been saving”
I was shocked, but very pleasantly surprised. How had she managed to smuggle this bottle along on this trip? Had she sent it ahead? That did not make sense, as this part of our trip was improvised.
Rather than press her for details, I simply enjoyed the wine. Drinking wine in a swimming pool overlooking the ocean is a wonderful thing to do. Add a Cosentino wine and the wonderful becomes far more so!
Getting back to how difficult it was to infiltrate Cosentio, I will say that it the delay may have just come down to poor spy-craft. I was just knocking on the wrong doors at the winery. For nearly two years.
So, dear Operative, this mission report is really my Mea Culpa. I did a bad job and it took me way too long to bring you a Cosentino wine. This mission is also my way of making it up to you! Today’s wine, made by master winemaker, Mitch Cosentino, is a great wine at a remarkable price.
The winery loves what we Wine Spies are up to and they allowed us special access to their wine archives. We pulled out today’s wine for you as the first of what we expect to be a handful of additional Cosentio wines that we’ll bring you this year.
A special thanks to Agent S2 (our new inside man at the winery) and to Mitch Cosentino for hosting us at our private tasting recently. It was great fun to hang out with you both – and to listen to Mitch tell us everything about wine, growing and winemaking. We learned a ton and we loved drinking through your wines with you!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Cosentino Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Spice and earth notes with currants, cherry and minerals in the nose. Always styled by balance and elegance, this wine projects flavors of black cherry and cassis, with a briary spiciness. The delectable finish is marked by warm tannins.
COMPOSITION: 77% Sangiovese, 23% Cabernet Franc
WINEMAKING: The grapes were partially punch cap fermented. After aging approximately 13 months in small barrels, the wine was bottled unfined.
About The Winery:
Lead by the spirit of creativity and innovation, Cosentino Winery was founded nearly 30 years ago with a commitment to making only the highest quality wines from California’s greatest vineyards.Because these same ideals ring as true today as they did in the beginning, Cosentino wines have steadily grown in quality and reputation over the years and are considered among many to be some of the finest wines made in the world.
The history of Cosentino Winery began when Mitch Cosentino started making his first wines in the corner of a Wine Distribution warehouse in 1980, in Modesto, California. By 1981, his first vintage was released under the labels of “The Cosentino Wine Company”and “Crystal Valley Cellars”. The first several wines produced and released by Cosentino in the early 1980s were made from small lots of grapes that Mitch acquired from some of the leading growers of California’s North Coast counties such as Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Sacramento Counties.
Cosentino rapidly gained recognition for his innovative winemaking abilities and uniquely crafted wines. Mitch was a pioneer in introducing new varietals into the California wine market and a leader in creating new wine blends that would eventually become commonplace in the industry. In fact, Cosentino Winery is widely recognized for its role in the development of California’s “Meritage” style wine, a Bordeaux – inspired blend that is now a staple throughout the Napa Valley when in 1989, Cosentino’s release of “The Poet” (1986 vintage), was America’s first designated and licensed “Meritage” wine. (Today, there are over 200 other wineries producing “Meritage” style wines.)
By 1989, Mitch was producing 4,000 cases per year and moved the “Cosentino Wine Company”/“Crystal Valley Cellars” to its current facility location in Yountville, California…situated in the heart of The Napa Valley. When the “Cosentino Winery” brand was established in the Napa Valley, Mitch began to negotiate and secure additional estate contracts and agreements with some of Napa’s top vineyards. These contracts and commitments allowed Mitch the ability to control the farming and harvesting of the grapes used to craft his wines. Today, Mitch still maintains contracts with many of these same growers which provide consistent quality to the wines.
In 1991, as Cosentino continued to produce multiple award winning and internationally recognized wines, he met a young couple from Chicago who had just enjoyed a bottle of Cosentino wine that would soon change all three of their lives forever.
Edie and Larry Soldinger were introduced to Cosentino Winery on a trip to Napa Valley in 1991 when they shared a bottle of Cosentino Winery’s “1986 Cabernet Franc”. They were so impressed with the wine that they sought out to find Mitch the very next day and to learn more about his winery.
Both Edie and Larry immediately recognized the potential of Cosentino Winery and they believed that they could provide an element that would help Cosentino Winery grow to keep up with its increasing demand and reputation.
By 1992, a deep relationship had evolved and Mitch Cosentino became partners with Edie and Larry, and together they began to take Cosentino Winery to its next level.
Throughout the 1990s, Cosentino Winery grew in quality and reputation, and as the demand for more wines continued, the Winery decided to purchase additional properties in the Napa Valley and Lodi regions of California.
In August 1999, the Winery purchased 160 acres in Pope Valley, a prime grape growing region nestled in the hills of Napa Valley, just north and east of the Yountville and Oakville appellations.
Additionally in August 2000, the Winery acquired a 20 acre vineyard in Lockeford, California, as well as 40 acres of virgin farmland in Clements, California…both located in the “Lodi” appellation.
The Company completed construction of its second ultra-premium winery, “Crystal Valley Cellars” on the Lockeford property in June 2004 and immediately began plans for an additional wine making facility on the Clements property, which was completed in 2006 and is now the new home of “Crystal Valley Cellars”.
The Pope Valley estate became home to Cosentino’s third ultra-premium winery, “CE2V Estate Winery”, which released its first vintage in 2001 with a 1999 “Estate” Red Meritage, and recently began producing on site with its new facility right on time for California’s 2007 Harvest.
Cosentino Wineries now operate from four “state of the art” facilities located in their vineyards throughout the heart and hills of Napa Valley, as well as in the flats and rolling hills of Lodi that rest near the base of the Sierra Mountains.
These multiple vineyard and facility locations allow Cosentino to comfortably meet the continual demand for its wines while having simultaneous control over the quality of production.
Cosentino Wineries maintain the role as a pioneer in the wine industry by continually creating new blends as well as finding and introducing relatively obscure varietals into the market place. The Company’s versatility allows it the creativity and freedom to develop new labels and add new brands to the stellar portfolio, of Cosentino Wineries, which also includes “Legends” (a joint venture with Larry Bird, the legendary basketball player), as well as the hand crafted boutique wines of the Napa Valley based “Blockheadia Winery”, both joining the family of wines in 2006.
Cosentino Signature Wineries proudly consists of five ultra premium wineries, currently offering over 50 different varietals between all their brands. Whether you’ve just fallen in love with a Cosentino wine for the first time or if you’ve been enjoying them for years, there’s always something new to discover.
The Cosentino Winery motto “Never Enough Wines” is as strong today as it has ever been!
Varietals: 77% Sangiovese, 23% Cabernet Franc