Red Blend •Estate Vineyard
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Salvestrin Vineyard and Winery.
SAVINGS ALERT! Smart spies stock up on great wines. When they buy 6 or more bottles of today’s SuperCaliTuscan, they will be rewarded with Free Ground Shipping, but only if they enter secret savings code NAPASPY at checkout.
Mission Codename: The Legacy
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Uncover a Super Tuscan-style wine, born in California. If the wine is superb, procure an ample supply for our Operatives to enjoy
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Salvestrin Vineyard and Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Retaggio Red Wine
Winemakers: Kent Barthman and Rich Salvestrin
In just the last decade, Super Tuscans became the latest rage in Italian wine in the United States, however, their story goes back to the late 1940s when the famed Sassicaia wine was reportedly made by Incisa della Rochetta using Cabernet Sauvignon vines from Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, or so the legend goes. Now California Super Tuscan-inspired blends are presenting as great wines of remarkable quality, providing a unique expression of this Italian heritage blend.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark purple with a dark inky heart of deep garnet, with tightly-packed, slow thick legs that start slow and then streak down the glass, providing insight into the wines mouthfeel
Smell – Intense wild blackberries, blackberry and raspberry with currant, blueberry, licorice and spices. This wine also presents secondary aromas of black pepper and earth
Feel – Round and soft at very first, then bright and bold, dry and warm on the tongue, this full-bodied wine has medium tannins and a mouth-coating and chewy quality. As this wine opens up it becomes more velvety
Taste – Extremely well balanced fruit, with notable dusky blackberry, currant, blueberry and soft spice, with touches of oak, black pepper and an earthy quality. Present here is that classic subtle orange zest spiciness that you only find in exceptional Italian wines
Finish – This wine finishes beautifully long and dry with big fruit and a slight herbaceous quality
Conclusion – This is a big, juicy, delicious and fun wine to drink! A really interesting wine as well, with a definite between California-fresh and Super Tuscan heritage. For those Cali wine fans familiar with Super Tuscan wines from Italy, this wine delivers a great synergy of the two. Bright and aromatic with balanced acidity and a great mouthfeel, this wine is a great solo sipper or perfect with most food combinations. Auguri! to Salvestrin for building this wonderful wonderful wine! If you are a fan of Super Tuscans, you won’t be disappointed!
Three generations of Salvestrins have made wine in America. Today, Rich Salvestrin makes wine on the family’s estate, a practice which began with Rich’s grandfather, John, and was continued by his son, Ed. By American standards, three generations is about as old as a winemaking family can be.
When Central Command issued a Priority Alert for a great California Super Tuscan, our Assets flooded us with intel on various wineries. On feeding all of the data into the W.I.N.E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) system, I was presented with three recommendations. At the top of the list was Silvestrin.
Immediately I set out to the winery. Nestled between a residential neighborhood and Crane Park near downtown St. Helena, the 26-acre property is expansive and lush with grape-laden vines. There, on a beautiful late-June day I had the great pleasure to meet with Shannon Salvestrin, Rich’s wife and partner in day to day operation of the winery.
With myself posing as a wine writer (the perfect cover, as I really do write for Imbibe Magazine and Color and Aroma Magazine), we tasted through the range of their wines. We lingered especially long on the Retaggio, today’s wine.
Retaggio is Italian for Legacy_, a fitting name for this Tuscan Style wine, from this particular winemaking family, for this wine is the wine embodiment (em_bottlement?) of the family’s fine heritage and wine-crafting experience.
Made from grapes of Napa Valley Sangiovese and Estate grown Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Salvestrins have captured the essence of fine Italian Super Tuscan, but in a rich, sleek and somehow more modern California style that does not sacrifice its old-world roots.
At the end of the tasting, I quietly reveled my true intent, asking Shannon for several cases of the wine for our worthy Operatives to enjoy. She readily agreed, allowing us to procure a small cache – but with the suggestion that we counsel our Operatives to “… stock up and also keep a few bottles in the cellar to enjoy later.” This Wine Spy has taken her advice to heart. I only hope that I can be patient, for this wine is ready to drink right now!.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Salvestrin Estate vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Salvestrin Estate Vineyard & Winery, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
About This Wine:
An intense ruby color draws one to the depth of the experience that unfolds in the glass. Plan on spending some time enjoying what shows up here, earthy leather, cedar and spice to blackberry, currant and licorice. A silky solid entry leads to full and alanced mid palate that echo the earlier aromas of fruit and spice. As you would hope it goes on for a while with a mouth coating finish that keeps you wanting more. Enjoy!
This elegant wine opens with aromas of raspberry, currant, blueberry and spice. A hint of leather and oak carries the wine to the mid-palate which fills in with soft tannins. The wine finishes with lingering flavors of ripe berry fruit.
About The Winery:
Our family has been growing wine grapes in Napa Valley for 75 years, since the day John Salvestrin arrived from northern Italy and began farming a 26-acre vineyard originally planted in 1860. For us, this historic St. Helena vineyard is home and making great wine a family value. We invite you to learn more about our vineyard and winery in these pages and to visit us the next time you’re in Napa Valley.
In 1910, Italian grape grower and home winemaker John Salvestrin emigrated to the U.S., settling in 1927 in California’s Napa Valley. In 1932, John and his wife Emma purchased the historic Crane ranch in St. Helena, beginning a lineage of three generations of Salvestrins who have farmed this heralded property’s vines, some of which date back to the 1890s.
Following in his father’s footsteps, John’s son Ed farmed the family vineyard while working in the St. Helena Post Office, and Ed’s son Richard, graduating in 1987 with a degree in viticulture from Fresno State University, joined his father in nurturing the cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sangiovese, petite syrah, and zinfandel vines that now comprise it. Rich, is the Vineyard Manager and Co-winemaker along with Kent Barthman, who has been consulting for the Salvestrin family since the winery completion in 2001.
Ed’s wife Susanne, a longtime pastry chef at nearby Sutter Home Winery, along with their daughter Lynn, run the family’s Sunny Acres Bed & Breakfast (originally the Victorian-era home of Dr. George Crane), making guests feel right at home with her warmth and delicious country-style breakfasts.
For Susanne, Ed, Shannon and Rich, Salvestrin Estate Vineyard and Winery is a special place, embodying the passionate commitment of three generations of Salvestrins to produce exceptional grapes and wines.
The Estate Vineyard and Winery:
Located in the heart of Napa Valley, just south of the town of St. Helena, our 26-acre estate vineyard was planted originally in the 1860s by Napa Valley pioneer George Crane. Viticultural innovators, Yount and Crane were among the first to plant European grape varieties in California. Two blocks of the vineyard’s old zinfandel vines planted by Crane survive to this day.
Beginning in 1932, three generations of our family have farmed this unique vineyard, which today is comprised of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sangiovese, petite syrah, and zinfandel vines. The vineyard’s warm microclimate and gravelly volcanic soils give us fully ripened fruit with an ideal balance of flavor, tannin, and acidity.
For many years, we sold all our grapes to other Napa Valley wineries. However, in 1994, we began making our own wines. In 2001, we completed construction of a new winery on the site, which blends state-of-the-art technology with traditional old-world methods, enabling us to expertly vinify our hand-crafted, estate-grown Napa Valley wines.
COMPOSITION: 50% ILSLEY VINEYARD SANGIOVESE
30% ESTATE MERLOT
20% ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON
APPELLATION: NAPA VALLEY
BARRELS: 75% FRENCH—25% AMERICAN
20% NEW OAK
TIME IN OAK: 18 MONTHS
BOTTLING DATE: FEBRUARY 2007
RELEASE DATE: JUNE 2007
PRODUCTION: 1200 CASES