Last summer, we spent about 10 days with Nina’s grandmother who lives in Santa Cruz, California. During that visit, we had the good fortune to attend a tasting at Ridge (for the report and an awesome photo of me see here – at the bottom of the post). While I love visiting producers that are widely known and appreciated, I also get a kick out of visiting smaller, less well know, more local wineries. For one weekend, we decided to go and hit up Bargetto Winery, a winery I had never even heard of. It’s located in Santa Cruz and was established in 1933. It was founded by two brothers that migrated to the United States from the Piemonte region in Italy. From 1918-1933, due to prohibition, the winery was only making wine for family and friends, until in 1933 they cranked up production with the end of prohibition. It is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation.
We went to the tasting room in Soquel on a Saturday afternoon, and had a great time. It was a rather quiet day, we paid the California obligatory tasting room fee, and then proceeded to try their Merlot, Pinot Noir, and other varietal wines. We got to talk to Michael Sones, the winemaker who is a great guy, and got a tour of the estate. The winery claims to try to follow the Northern Italian wine making tradition, which seems to entail trying to express colder climate flavors in their wines. For us, that approach seemed to work. Grandma signed up for the wine club, and we took home a couple of bottles of this Merlot, and one of their high end Pinot Noir, which I really enjoyed.
Another note to send ahead: I don’t understand why so many people have issues with Merlot. When done right, it is such an interesting grape, with awesome flavors. Its rather light feel is a much better fit for me than the seemingly heavier Cabernet Sauvignons. In my book, if you are looking for something between Cabernet and Pinot Noir, try a Merlot….but that might just be me.
The 2010 Santa Cruz Mountains Merlot is composed of 90.2% Merlot and 9.8% Petite Syrah grapes with the vast majority of grapes coming from Regan Estate vineyard. The wine has 13.5% ABV and was aged in 33% new oak barrels for 18 months before being bottled in September 2012. 381 cases were produced. Price: $25.
In the glass, the wine showed a bright darker red with hazy rims. The nose was extremely full of berries, mostly crushed raspberries, but also currants. There were floral aromas, and hints of smoke. I thought the nose was terrific. After a while, branch aromas started to show up and the nose got more earthy. On the palate, the first thing I noticed was a healthy acidity, and then what I can only describe as vanilla ice cream with raspberry sauce. It was such a cool tasting experience, and definitely not what I remembered from our tasting room tasting. The mouth-feel was silky and fresh, and some wood aromas shown through. The wine was of good length, with all in all well integrated flavors. If I had one issue, it would be that the acidity was maybe a bit too bright for it to be entirely balanced.
All in all, a cool tasting experience. I enjoyed the flavors, which became more spicy and herbal as the bottle progressed, and it brought back good memories from last year’s visit to the Bay area. Cannot wait to go back. Also, I tried some dark chocolate with this wine, and it was a great pairing. The red berries and chocolate just hit it off! If you get a chance, stop by at Bargetto Winery and give their wines a try.