2007 Atlas Peak Sangiovese
Sangiovese •Atlas Peak Vineyard
California: Napa Valley: Atlas Peak
What We Say
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Mission Codename: The Danish Kings of Napa
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Venge Vineyards, and return with the wine of legend, their perfect Atlas Peak Sangiovese
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Venge Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Atlas Peak Sangiovese
Winemaker: Kirk Venge
Backgrounder: We have had the great pleasure to bring you wines made by today’s winemaker, Kirk Venge (“Ven-ghee”). These wines, from other wineries, were always superb. For today’s wine, we are very proud to bring you a wine made under Kirks own proud label, Venge Vineyards.
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 Atlas Peak region of the Napa Valley were legendary and today, some of the most exciting California Sangiovese are found there. For today’s wine, Agnet Red received a secret dispatch from a trusted confidential informant. This informant, a deep cover Operative, directed Agent Red directly to Venge Vineyards. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes on today’s fantastic wine, followed by his mission report, to learn more about today’s old-world-in-California wine
About Atlas Peak: Located N.E. of Napa, on the western slope of the Vaca Mountains, this region has over 1,500 acres under vine. This, in a region of nearly 11,000 acres. Grapes have been growing in this region for more than 100 years.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark ruby-red, with concentrated color right out to its ovely pinkish edges. The core of the wine is darker, but still beautifully clear. When swirled, the wine shows a softly bouncy surface that settles quickly, leaving behind a high layer of chubby legs, and a lower layer of chubby legs. On both levels, these start slowly and then take their time moving down the glass
Smell – Gorgeous and earthy and fruity and perfumy all in one, with layers of cherry, blackberry, forest canopy, pepper, mild spice, softest oak and softer thyme
Feel – Velvet smooth and very round on entry, this wine absolutely glides across the palate. Then, after a moment or two, the develops a soft to medium body as supple tannins grip gently at the edges of the palate, coating the mouth and drying the lips
Taste – Beautifully balanced, riding the margin perfectly between bright and dusky, with bright red cherry, blackberry, dark plum and soft pepper, Earthen raspberry, forest floor and soft spices
Finish – A slightly dry, but long and lingering finish with flavors that go from sweet to tart to slightly earthen and smoky, making your mouth water. Flavors really hang on in the back palate, outlasting flavors in the rest of the mouth.
Conclusion – We have waited a long time to bring you a Venge Vineyards wine. I have to say that it was well worth the wait! Today’s Atlas Peak Sangiovese from Kirk Venge is a masterful expression of California Sangiovese. Representing the best of both Old-World and New-World stylings, today’s wine is a modern classic. It strikes a beautiful balance in style, and in its flavors and aromatics. Kirk shows off his winemaking prowess, by building a wine that delivers a great deal to experience. It is also a great winr to simply enjoy. Savor it and find all of the nuance in the wine – or just kick back and enjoy it with a light-hearted summer meal. We did both with our sample bottles and we had a fantastic wime with the wime!
Agent Red has gone AWOL. Again. We expect him to check in, soon. When he does, we’ll rush to transcribe his interview with Kirk Venge. Please be sure to check back later today. Until then, we apologize for Red’s tardiness. You can be assured that he will receive a harsh reprimand.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Venge Vineyards winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The Atlas Peak Appellation is renown in Napa Valley for producing legendary Sangiovese. Over 23 years ago, Piero Antinori brought his renowned experience of the varietal here from his homeland in Tuscany. This wine showcases incredible color and complexity, pushing the limits of this varietal with nuances of cracked pepper, black fruit and light forest scents. The palate is layered with sweet red cherry dominating the fleshy fruit profile. Typical of the varietal and area, this Sangiovese has much to offer the discriminating palate with wonderful structure, acidity and back palate length. We are very excited to have this never before seen offering added to our portfolio of reds. Cellared correctly, this wine will age brilliantly for 8 or more years.
The Vineyard: In 1985, the Antinori family and other business partners discovered a beautiful estate in the Napa Valley, situated on the Atlas Peak plateau at an altitude of 500-600m above sea level. To the Antinori’s, the hilly and rocky landscape is very much like Tuscany but above all it is ideal winegrowing country. In 1993, their increasing certainty of the potential of this terroir led the Antinori family to make a personal investment in this project and assume direct ownership of the estate, which includes about 500 acres of vineyards. Included in the acreage is Caber-
net Sauvignon, Merlot and of course the family’s favorite, Sangiovese. The vines are now well into their late teens and are truly reaching their full potential. Because of its elevation above the Valley floor, this is a relatively cooler site, even suitable for the Pinot Noir that grows nearby, which allows for incredible hang time and maturity before harvest.
Harvest Notes: Harvest took place late on October 11th, 2007 at a perfect 26.5 Brix. Yields were very low in 2007, temperatures were perfect and rain was never a threat. Approximately 5% Petite Sirah from the Baranek Vineyard in Clarksburg, Ca. was co-fermented in the blend.
Vinification and Ageing: A somewhat rare technique critical in the making of this wine is ripasso. We love this winemaking procedure and it is typical in all of Venge Vineyard’s Sangioveses. Ripasso is an Italian term describing the use of the skins of one varietal during fermentation to lend its qualities to the juice of another. (Essentially it means trading out the skins of a lower intensity varietal, like Sangiovese, with that of a more power driven varietal like Petite Sirah in this scenario.)
Italian Amarones are made in this fashion. Although very inexact in its science, it is a wonderfully artistic method and tool that when used correctly gives most Sangiovese proper weight and density. In this example, Petite Sirah skins lend an incredible amount of flavor and dark purple color to the wine that it possibly would not have had otherwise. Via ripasso, we are able to give this wine the opportunity to marry from day one, resulting in a wine with much fuller body and ripe character. The wine was aged for 19 months in one-year-old used Francois Frères tight grain French Oak barrels. Indigenous malolactic fermentation was employed.
About The Winery:
My Journey began on the shoulders of a giant within the California winemaking community – my father, Nils Venge. Like many in his generation of wine producers, he cut his teeth in Napa Valley in the ‘70s and ‘80s as the region was establishing notoriety and nobility amongst the world’s great wine producing regions. His establishment as a force in the production of world class wines occurred at Groth Winery, with the production of the 1985 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, scoring a perfect 100 points from wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr.—the first ever awarded to a California producer. He started his own winery in 1988, Saddleback Cellars, where as a young man, I grew up with the winery as the backdrop for what would become my life’s work.
Today, I carry the Venge heritage forward, building on the experience and guidance instilled in me by my father, while embracing an era of experimental and technological advancement in winemaking. Never before have the standards been as high as they are today. Greatness is no longer the byproduct of mastery of one’s craft, it is the expectation.
At Venge Vineyards, we believe the vineyard provides the foundation for achieving greatness in winemaking. In essence, site determines the winemaker’s destiny. As such, we strive to find and farm only the best vineyard sources at perfectly balanced yields, pushing the bounds of our expectations surrounding viticultural management and varietal composition. In the cellar, minimalist intervention carries our vineyard selection and management forward with balanced macerations, clarification without filtration, and aging in a combination of new and used barrels to gently support the natural tannins we find in each fruit source.
These efforts aid in the achievement of growing complex, rich sources of fruit and producing wines that are characteristically distinct. Together, when grown, produced and blended, our wines sing the song of greatness.
Kirk P. Venge – Proprietor & Winemaker
Varietals: 95% Atlas Peak Vineyard Sangiovese, Atlas Peak, 5% Baranek Vineyard Petite Sirah, Clarks-
TA: 0.63 g./100mL
Bottled: May 4th, 2009.
Handling: Unfiltered and Unfined
Production: 300 Cases