Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
2008 Tracy Hills Sagrantino
California: Central Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Mature Beyond its Age
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Return to Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, and secure a limited allocation of their unique and delicious Sagrantino, a wine that is rare to America
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2008 Sagrantino – Tracy Hills
Winemaker: Charlie Tsegeletos
Sagrantino is an Italian grape variety that is indigenous to the region of Umbria in Central Italy. It is grown primarily in the village of Montefalco and its surrounding areas, with only 250 acres dedicated to the grape in the hands of about 25 producers. With such small production, the wine is not widely known outside of Italy, even though it was granted DOCG status in 1991. Here in California, an even smaller number of producers grow this grape. Our friends at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards have crafted a uniquely delicious Sagrantino that is very worthy of your attention.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful ruby hues with perfectly concentrated color, from its core, right out to the edge of the glass. After swirling, skinny wine stain tears streak quickly down the glass.
Smell – Bold in intensity with aromas of black cherry, candied cherry, fragrant red flowers and red plum. Beneath these, brown spice, earth, dried meats, anise and bay laurel.
Feel – Fast and light on entry, then as soon as the wine hits the mid palate, firm tannins and a bright acidity give the wine a solid structure.
Taste – Bright cherry, brambly blackberry and wild raspberry coat the palate. These are rounded out by bright flavors of young red plum, tart cherry and earthy young strawberry. under, soft oak and a mineral-driven black pepper.
Finish – Medium long in length with lingering flavors of spice and fruit that are supported by its fresh and youthful structure.
Conclusion – The 2008Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sagrantino is a really intriguing and delicious wine that we really are enamored with! With bright fruit on the nose and palate, this wine delivers a fresh experience that will delight you – and inspire you. This wine will have you sipping and discussing, as you keep pulling out a mixture of flavors and aromas that are unique to this wine. Bright acidity, bold flavors and a full mouthfeel make this wine an obvious pairing companion for a spicy pasta dish, bold herb chicken or even a pepper rubbed t-bone.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Charlie Tsegeletos
WINE EDUCATION: 30 years of working with winemakers and growers that know what they are doing and what it takes to make good wine. BS Ag Sci and Management and Plant Science from UCD.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Apprentice Winemaker with tiny Pendleton Winery in San Jose; Assistant Winemaker with family owned Hacienda Winery in Sonoma; Winemaker for historic D’Agostini Winery in Amador County; Senior Director of Winemaking for ground breaking Glen Ellen Winery in Glen Ellen; Winemaker for fun-loving Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Balance is everything. Make big flavorful red wines that have sharp edges and make crisp, fresh white wines that tantalize.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”Put ten of your favorite wines in a brown paper bags and taste them blind with your friends. I think you’ll like our wines.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1981 Pendleton Monterey Chardonnay released in early ’82.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Charlie. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sagrantino today. This is a unique wine, and we thank you for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
CHARLIE: Thanks for having me, again!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
CHARLIE: A bottle of 1974 Charles Krug Reserve Cab spun my head around and I wanted to have a go at making something like that.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
CHARLIE: I’ve had a chance to work with a lot of winemakers over the years and each has his “special” winemaking secrets and some of them even work. Joel Aiken who had been the Beaulieu Vineyards winemaker for years once asked me what my wine stood for and that really made me think that each wine I make should stand for something – in other words it should have it’s own signature and not just taste like something else in the lineup.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
CHARLIE: I make it according to my sense of balance and that seems to work out okay for the consumers, sales folks and reviewers. I do listen to what folks say about the wine and then try and refine the wine each vintage.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
CHARLIE: This is a very rare red wine you are featuring today. There are less than 25 acres of this Italian variety remaining in Italy and far less than that in California. The Italian planting is North of Rome and South of Florence in the Provence of Umbria. We get the grapes from a very adventurous grower in the Tracy Hills AVA between Livermore and Manteca.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
CHARLIE: To me the wine tastes like savory blackberries, it is “chewy” and has great body so I would pair it with a medium to big bodied food like Teriyaki Chicken or Ribs or just sip it on a cold night. This is our first vintage of this wine and I am very happy with how it turned out.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Tracy Hill appellation so special?
CHARLIE: The Tracy Hills appellation is special for a few reasons. First the area warms up pretty well during the day because it is part of the Central Valley but it gets a steady wind coming through the Altamont Pass and over the hills keeps the heat reasonable. The vines are planted on fairly rich, well drained alluvial soils deposited by the creeks that come out of the foothills on the west side of the valley. And this region gets very little rainfall – on a par with the Mojave Desert – so managing the
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
CHARLIE: We are bottling up a storm and I am working on our grape needs for the future which means I am writing up grape contracts and hanging out with my buddies that own tractors.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
CHARLIE: Pour it, ponder it and drink it. You’ll know if you like it and if my sense of balance works for you too.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
CHARLIE: Don’t take it too seriously – remember it started out as a grape.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Often referred to as “the best red wine you have NEVER tasted," Sagrantino is one of the more obscure Italian varieties that we now produce at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. Sagrantino is a relatively rare Umbrian grape variety with only an estimated 250 acres to 400 acres in production, all on the slopes of the hill around the town of Montefalco (east of Orvietto, north of Spoletto, south of Perugia, and 90 miles northeast of Rome). To put this in perspective 250-400 acres amounts to approximately 60,000 to 80,000 cases of wine. There are a few acres planted here in California in the Tracy Hills area (east of the Livermore Valley receiving the same cooling effects from bay fog).
Traditionally Sagrantino is made as a dessert wine, but when dessert wines fell out of favor during the 1970s and 1980s, many producers started experimenting making it as a dry table wine – discovering in the process that they had a “big gem” of a wine on their hands. “Big Gem” in this case means a wine that has concentrated flavors, dark color and a lot of tannins. However, for some reason, the tannins in the Sagrantino do not produce sharp flavors but instead have sweeter nuances. This allows it both to be drinkable when young and still have tremendous aging potential.
Vineyard Notes: When we went in search of a California planting of this Italian native we found that there were very few acres planted here and a meager 250-400 acres planted in Italy. We were lucky to find a meticulous farmer with an interest in this unusual variety. Located in the Tracy Hills appellation in San Joaquin County, the vineyard has been designated a “mineral resource zone” by the US Geological Service due to the high gravel content of the soil. To increase the intensity of flavor, he uses deficit irrigation (watering below crop requirements). These grapes experience warm days with cool breezes in the evening.
Production Notes: Grapes are de-stemmed with minimal crushing. Must is pumped to a temperature controlled stainless steel tank and inoculated with a pure strain of wine yeast to ensure complete and healthy fermentation. Grapes are pressed and the juice is moved to a settling tank. Within a few days, 35% of the wine is racked and moved onto new French oak with the balance remaining in neutral cooperage. The wine is racked once more during the course of aging and then moved to a tank for bottling.
Winemaker Notes: In Italy the grape is grown in the Umbria region just south of Tuscany.
About The Winery
The Jacuzzi trek to America started in 1907, when Valeriano and Francesco Jacuzzi, the second- and third-born sons of Giovanni and Teresa Jacuzzi, immigrated to Washington to work on the railroad. A warmer climate beckoned and the pair eventually made their way to southern California. Years later, they were joined by four other brothers and eventually all went to work in the aviation industry. Soon they would make American history.
In 1911 their father, Giovanni, a skilled wood worker and vineyard farmer joined them. Two weeks was enough to convince him that his sons would never go back. He then returned to Italy with Valeriano to gather up the rest of the family.
World War I intervened and the trip was delayed until the war’s end. During this time, Valeriano had met Giuseppina and fell in love, married and had their first child. Valeriano’s new family, parents and remaining siblings departed from Italy in 1920.
Soon after their arrival in early 1921, Valeriano started working with his brothers at their Jacuzzi Brothers factory. A tragic crash, over Modesto, of Jacuzzi’s first enclosed monoplane took several lives, including that of Valeriano’s brother, Giocondo. At this time, Giovanni asked his sons to cease making planes. Valeriano moved his family to Northern California and purchased a 161-acre farm in Contra Costa County.
During the depression, Valeriano, with help from his older children, planted a portion of the open farm fields with grapes and in 1936 he applied for a license to make wine for home consumption. At that time he was limited to 200 gallons (approximately 84 cases). The vineyard was planted to Zinfandel, Carignane and Mourvedre and he sold grapes for $30-$35 a ton.
In 1937, Valeriano returned to work with his brothers at Jacuzzi Brothers, Inc. located in Berkeley, CA where they manufactured water well pumps and eventually, the bath and spa that bears their name.
Wine Type: Red Wine
Harvest Date: September 5
Aging: 11 months
Residual Sugar: .29%