100% Brunello-clone Sangiovese; 14.5% ABV
Paso Robles AVA, CA
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 26 Dec
It struck me as unusual and interesting that someone would go to the trouble of growing Brunello-clone Sangiovese, so I was very curious to try this wine. I like it a lot, finding it an interesting and tasty Paso Robles version of Sangiovese.
I thought the wine was interesting, aromatic, and tasty right away, but after about 90 minutes in a decanter, the ripe CA fruit comes out, and the wine is still delicate and complex. The wine shows flavors of earthy red cherry with hints of orange and complex darker berries, with slight, bitter stemmines, and wood / leather. In another 30 minutes, the wine darkens to give earthy darker red and black cherries, black raspberry / almost blackberry or violets, hints of licorice and orange, still some nicely balancing stemmy bitterness. This is quite a list of flavors, and I should probably qualify it by saying that I did not detect all flavors in every sip. The fruit is softer, less acid, and more ripe than Brunello di Montalcino, but the wine is still nicely delicate (about the weight of a Pinot Noir) and complex, carrying it’s 14.5% alcohol well. It’s a fairly subtle wine; it would not impress me that much if I were not paying attention. It seems fully mature, but not about to go off in the next year or so.
The next day, the second half (stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air) had better integrated the flavors of the first night, but was overall less dark and more acid, which to my palate made it more balanced. It was still quite delicious. With this change, and since I’m tasting it right after it arrived, I’ll shorten my estimated time frame for drinking this to the next several months.
At work, we received six Hearthstone wines on Monday: this Bruno di Paso, the 2010 Sangiovese (not sure what the difference is, will have to find out), the 2011 Superiore (a Toscana IGT- or “super Tuscan”-type blend with Cabernet), the 2010 Lodestone (a Rhone-style blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre), the 2011 Syrah, and the 2010 Fireside Claret (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot), all $7 each. All these wines’ showing up probably implies some kind of financial trouble for Hearthstone. Although it would probably be better if these producers stayed in charge of the Brunello-clone Sangiovese, whatever happens business-wise, I really hope this vineyard is not torn out. If it can produce this wine in its relative youth, it could probably make some excellent wine with more age.