2007 Stretto Red Wine
California: Napa Valley
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Mission Codename: Lucia di Lammermoor
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Verismo Wines, and secure their delicious red blend, Stretto, a wine that contains the same fruit that is found in some of the most highly-prized ultra-premium wines.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Verismo Wines
Wine Subject: 2007 Stretto Red Wine
Winemaker: Patrick Saboe
Made from fruit grown by the D’Ambrosio brothers, today’s wine is a special treat at a great price. Verismo makes this 2007 Stretto Red from the same family vineyard sources as ultra-premium wineries like Caymus, Paul Hobbs, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Duckhorn, and many others.
Red blends are a favorite of many a Wine Spies Operative. Perhaps this is because a great blend is like a great All-star sports team, where the coach gets to choose the best players. In the case of today’s wine, Stretto’s winemaker was able to pick from the finest lot’s of the best wines. Today’s Stretto is a great example of how a wine can be born of great blending – from the best vineyard sources.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep burgundy with ruby edges. Color concentration is even, with a heart that goes darker but still clear. Chubby legs form low on the glass before they meander gradually downward.
Smell – Generous blackberry and black cherry rush to greet you. These are followed by earthy aromas of brown spice, dusty bramble, subtle dried herbs and a hint of flinty mineral. As the wine opens up, additional fruit emerges, lead by black plum, boysenberry and candied cherry.
Feel – Soft and medium-bodied on entry, then grippy and mouth coating with bold tannins and a perfect acidity. Dryness spreads from tongue-tip rearward, leaving a blackfruit behind, even after the dryness overtakes initial softness of the wine.
Taste – Black cherry, blackberry, smoky plum and oak are large and in charge. As the wine opens (decant for best results), tart cranberry, stewed black fig and smoky cassis mix with sweetwoods, oak, soft spice and slate. At the very end, slate and pepper persist.
Finish – Long and lingering with dark fruit, dried herbs and minerals that dwindle slowly. Slate and black pepper make an accentuated appearance at the very end, taking a long time to fully fade.
Conclusion – We had the good fortune to showcase the 2006 vintage of this wine, nearly a year ago. We really enjoyed that wine, and we are very pleased to report that the 2007 vintage is even better. This wine is delicious on opening, but decant to be rewarded with more authentic fruit flavors and a softer overall feel. Made from grapes from the same vineyards where elite wineries such as Caymus, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Duckhorn, Paul Hobbs and more source their fruit, this wine is available to you at a fraction of the cost. With enough acidity to make it an excellent food wine, we’d recommend pairing it with a grilled steak or a spicy Italian pasta dish. The 2007 vintage was an excellent one for California red wines, and this Italian-styled blend from Verismo is a delightful example of the vintage – and of Verismo’s winemaking prowess. Enjoy now, but hold a few bottles for the next few years, as well.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Patrick Saboe
WINE EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Winemaker – Verismo (2007-Present), Winemaker – Pezzi King Vineyards (2007-2008), Winemaker – Petroni Vineyards (2006-2007), Assistant Winemaker – Keller Estate (2003-2006)
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Start with amazing grapes, then don’t mess it up! Farming is the definitely the key. I try to capture what the fruit brings to the wine without overpowering it with heavy oak or extraction techniques. I try to give each wine minimal, yet careful, handling and let the magic happen for the most part on its own.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “It takes a lot of beer to make good wine”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 2003
AGENT RED: Greetings, Patrick. We are thrilled to be showing your Stretto Napa Valley Red Wine today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
PATRICK SABOE: Thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity to share some of the wine that I have helped to make.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
PATRICK: Well, I worked in the restaurant industry for ten years in my hometown Charleston, SC, and my love of wine definitely started then. But it was not until I had a bottle of 1990 Domaine de la Romanee Conti (man, that wine was incredible!), that I was convinced that some day I would make wine, perhaps when I retired. Then my wife and I came out to CA on our honeymoon during harvest time in 1996. We had an amazing time and on the flight home, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head. I turned to my wife and told her that I wanted to go back to school for winemaking and I could not wait until retirement. She was incredibly supportive and excited, so we moved out west!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
PATRICK: I have worked with several talented winemakers: Michael McNeill – Hanzell Vineyards, Jeff Hinchliffe – Hanna Winery, Jeff Virnig – Robert Sinskey Vineyards, to name a few. But I think that my preference for wines that are more elegant and balanced has had the largest impact on my style. I prefer to do as little as possible to the wine. I like to use an old world approach with new world fruit.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
PATRICK: Mostly for myself (a bit selfish, I know!). I admit that I do really enjoy it when other people like the wine as well. But I became a winemaker because of my passion for wine and I wanted to enjoy what I do. My goal every day is do as little of the things that I have to do, as many of the things that I want to!
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valley so special?
PATRICK: It is no doubt that some of the best wines in the world come from Napa Valley. While the weather is never exactly the same year to year, the conditions are usually close to ideal during the growing season. Being from South Carolina where it rains frequently during the summer, I did not realize until I moved here that the weather from April-October is so predictable (i.e. it does not rain). The warm days, cool nights and mornings, and the lack of rain are great for most types of grapes and they thrive here.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
PATRICK: We are preparing to bottle the 08 Cabernet, Malbec and Merlot soon, so blending trials occupy most of my time for the moment. I am quickly, getting ready for harvest as well.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
PATRICK: I recommend a daily approach! I think that people should think of wine as a part of your everyday routine.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
PATRICK: There should be nothing mysterious or mystifying about wine. Many people are often intimidated when asked what they like or what their opinion is of a wine. Everyone has their own impressions of any given wine (or music, art, fashion, etc…), and each of those is equally correct. No one is more of expert on your own palate than you. Wine is made to be drunk, so drink up!
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!
What the winery says
About This Wine:
Stretto is the overlapping of voices in Italian opera. Like its namesake, Stretto is complex with overlapping flavors. It is bold and full on the palate with hints of cherry blossoms, cassis, and blackberries. This wine is versatile and can be paired with barbequed meats, pasta and stews.
About The Winery:
Verismo Wines is a family owned business owned by four brothers, Don, Nick, Frank and John D’Ambrosio. Before Verismo Wines was conceived the four brothers ran a traditional Italian restaurant called, “Frankie Johnnie and Luigi Too” located in Mountain View, California, and New York Style Sausage Company in Sunnyvale, CA. The D’Ambrosio brothers only mandate in all their ventures is, homemade fresh food and products, and lots of it. The combination of delicious recipes, hard work and dedication led to the D’Ambrosio brother’s family success.
Each brother focused and specialized on a certain aspect of the family business. Don and Nick managed New York Style Sausage Company in Sunnyvale, while Frank and John ran the restaurant division. For two decades both businesses expanded and flourished.
In 1983 Frank and his wife Toni fell in love with the Napa Valley. They bought a cute house on a small parcel from Doc Williams who was retiring and moving to the city. The small ranch came with a tractor, a thousand “pinot chardonnay” vines and a pair of Felco pruning shears. The Doc graciously showed Frank the ropes of vineyard management. That first year, John Thatcher from Cuvaison bought the eight tons of fruit, and an agriculture career was born…
The four brothers decided to let Frank start a passive real estate portfolio in Napa and developed D’Ambrosio Brothers Investment Company, (DBIC). DBIC was successful in selling all their fruit for two decades until the release of the movie “Sideways” which featured Merlot as less desirabable wine. Because Merlot constituted the majority of DBIC’s production DBIC saw a loss in revenue.
Michael Beaulac, the winemaker at St. Supery, had been buying DBIC fruit for some time and had agreed to accommodate DBIC with a custom crush program. The 2006 harvest was so good that DBIC was able to sell twenty tons at the “hopper.” It was happening; the DBIC’s Ultra- Premium fruit was turning into their own ultra-premium wine.
In 2006, Aaron DeBeers was hired to manage the DBIC vineyards and to make and develop the wine program. Aaron formulated Verismo Wines LLC, and its value labels Stretto and Stella wines. Verismo Wines and concepts were designed to embody the traditions and values that had made the D’Ambrosio brothers successful for the past four decades. Verismo (VER-EEZ-MO) is the depiction of realism in Italian opera and literature during the period of 1875 to 1895. Realism in the arts is an important shift in western culture that allows for the celebration of everyday people and their efforts. As a result Verismo Wines is real people making real wine for everyone to enjoy.
After selling “Super-fruit” for two decades to many of the Napa Valley wine industry stars, such as Caymus, Paul Hobbs, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Duckhorn, and many others, Verismo Wines, and its value labels, Stretto and Stella will now shine with their own light.
Our wines are designed to bring forth outstanding quality from the vineyard directly to the consumer at an exceptional value. Because Verismo Wines is a subsidiary of DBIC, DBIC is able to provide the same quality fruit to Verismo for a fraction of the price that it normally charges to other wineries. We take pride in our ability to provide exceptional wines at an exceptional price to our loyal cliental. Thank you for your support and patronage!
About The Winemaker:
Patrick Saboe – Patrick graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, but his love of (obsession with) wine began more than ten years before in the restaurant business in his home state of South Carolina. After a honeymoon in Napa and Sonoma counties, Patrick realized that he was no longer satisfied with just drinking wine, and shortly thereafter began down a path that gained him acceptance to UCD and moved his family to California. After graduation and years earning his stripes at Robert Sinskey, Hanna, and Keller Estate, Patrick went on to become the winemaker for boutique producers Petroni Vineyards and Pezzi King Vineyards.
In the summer of 2007, Patrick decided to take on his most exciting challenge (other than agreeing to have baby number three) as winemaker for Verismo Wines. At Verismo, Patrick continues his goal of crafting unique wines that exhibit a nice balance of intensity, elegance and texture. He believes that a minimalist approach to both farming and winemaking yields the best results for the vineyards, the workers and the wine.
In his spare time, Patrick reads about wine, raises three kids, thinks about wine, works on his Honey-Do list, talks about wine, enjoys golf and hiking, and most importantly drinks wine.
Blend: 70% Merlot, 25% Syrah, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon
Ageing: 20 months in 20% new French oak barrels
Harvested: October 17-25, 2007
TA: 6.2 g/L