Sangiovese •Estate Vineyard
California: Paso Robles
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Tuscany, via Paso Robles
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Scour the Paso Robles region, and return with the perfect Sangiovese
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Pianetta Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Sangiovese
Winemaker: John Pianetta, Jr.
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 Paso Robles region were legendary and today, some of the most exciting California Sangiovese are found there. For today’s wine, Agent Red received a secret dispatch from most trusted confidential informants. This informant, an industry insider with a deep network of her own assets, directed Agent Red directly to Pianetta Winery. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes on this multi-award winner, followed by his mission report, to learn more about today’s old-world-in-California wine
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Ruby red to light shimmering burgundy with concentrated color at its transparent core heart and out to its pinkish edges, with a very springy-looking surface and chubby, tightly-spaced and uniquely wavy legs that take their time moving down the glass
Smell – Deep and perfumy with layers of earthy cherry, raspberry, strawberry, subtle clove and soft violet with a mild tomato vine or stemmy note
Feel – Bright and cool, light and soft, it slides smoothly across the palate. Then, the wine shows soft and supple tannins across the mid-palate, focusing the majority of its effects and flavors there
Taste – Bright again, with concentrated sweet and sweet-tart fruit flavors of yellow cherry, raspberry, soft smoke and mild thyme
Finish – A slightly dry, medium lingering finish with flavors that go from sweet to tart to slightly earthen and smoky, making your mouth water
Conclusion – We love Paso wines and this Sangiovese is a delightful example from our new friends at Pianetta Winery. True to its Italian Sangio-stylings, this wine is more about fruit than barrel, but this is a new-world example. Aged mostly in neutral oak, there is no big oak here, as may be found in other California Sangiovese. This wine shows its feminine fruit while it shows off the terroir of the Paso region, which I have come to characterize as delivering rich and concentrated wines. This wine is fruity, but it also shows restraint and balance. With a fine feel and great acidity, I would recommend this wine as a perfect companion to a simple pasta dinner or prosciutto with glazed walnuts and pear slices. Decant for best results.
For today’s mission report, we are pleased to present you with another in an ongoing series of winery interviews. Today’s brief conversation takes place between Caitlin Pianetta and Agent Red:
AGENT RED: “P-51”
CAITLIN PIANETTA: “Cadillac of the sky!”
RED: Pass-phrase verified! Hi, Caitlin.
CAITLIN: Greetings, Agent Red.
RED: Greetings, Caitlin, and thanks for taking the time to chat with me today.
CAITLIN: My pleasure. I heard, from my sources, that you and Agent White are both aviation buffs.
RED: (laughs) Your sources, eh? Well, they’d be right. Although, I’m not so sure that I feel entirely comfortable about you digging into our background.
RED: We do love airplanes. Your father – Pianetta’s winemaker – was a naval officer, correct?
CAITLIN: Correct. Dad was drafted out of college. He became an office and he flew A-7’s off of carrier decks. After the Navy, he rejoined his family’s farming. His father grew grapes and dad learned the trade for a while, but then went back to commercial aviation for a spell.
RED: He had a great flying career, but he could not stay away from the grapes, could he?
CAITLIN: True! His father farmed grapes on the family land, but granddad also made some Zinfandel for family and friends. Dad tried his hand at making wine – for fun back then in the 90’s – and everyone found it to be so good, that Pianetta Winery was born. In 2002 we released our first vintage.
RED: You have about 60 acres under vine and you grow grapes for some pretty prestigious wineries. What percentage of the fruit is kept in reserve for Pianetta wines?
CAITLIN: We keep about 20% of the grapes for our own estate wines. We also buy the best grapes we can find from other growers in the region.
RED: Your father, John Pianetta, is what sort of winemaker.
CAITLIN: I’d say that he’s very scientific in his approach, but I also have to say that he tries to handle the wine minimally. That’s is, much of the work on his wines is done in the vineyards. Through meticulous tracking, measurement and observation, the grapes are assured to be of the best possible quality.
RED: Dad sounds busy! What keeps you occupied at the winery?
CAITLIN: Gosh, I do it all! While you’ll often find me right here in the tasting room, this is where I direct all sales and marketing efforts for the winery. At harvest time, you’ll find me in the fields. During crush, well, you can see how purple my hands got as I was assisting!
RED: You really do do it all! Well, Caitlin, thanks again for spending this time with me. It was a pleasure to visit with you today. Please give my heartiest spy regards to John Jr., and tell him that if he ever needs a wingman, I’m available.
CAITLIN: _Wilco, Agent Red! Pianetta Winery, over and out!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the vineyard where the grapes for today’s wine was grown can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
Silver Medal – Central Coast Wine Competition (2008)
Bronze Medal – Vineyard & Winery Management Grand Harvest Awards (2008)
About This Wine:
Well balanced with dominant cherry and raspberry fruit flavors. Aged in mostly neutral French Oak for 18 months. Very light tannins.
Pianetta Vineyards sits just north of the historic mission town of San Miguel. Hot days and cool nights mark the distinct growing region of Indian Valley.
About The Winery:
Pianetta winery is located on the vineyard, fourteen miles north of the downtown Paso Robles tasting room. The majority of the grapes harvested are sold to a major premium winery. Their success with our grapes as well as their encouragement inspired us to develop a small winery to identify the wine from this vineyard.
The first vintage yielded 370 cases of 2002 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Since then, we have grown to a 2200 case production and added Shiraz, Syrah, a Syrah/Cabernet blend, and a Rose style wine to our Estate wines, as well as Sangiovese, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, and a Tuscan style blend from the Paso Robles appellation. The grapes received into our winery come from the terraced slopes, and are picked by hand. The grapes are then de-stemmed and lightly crushed and fermented. After the wine is drained and pressed, it is aged in predominantly French oak barrels for 18 months, then bottled by hand.
All of the wines are well-balanced with a solid fruit base, aged in dominant tight grained oak barrels, and focus on the best the vineyards produce. We have come a long way from the early farming and home made wine days. We invite you to enjoy the vintages.