Imagine this: A sweeping saga of four generations of Italian winemakers as they struggle against the odds and triumph over adversity for the sake of land, love and wine. Sounds like a Hallmark movie of the week or an Oprah book club selection, right? But it's not--not yet at least. It's the real story of the Seghesio family, winemakers in Healdsburg, California. And I got to learn all about it first hand this past Sunday.
Shana Ray (@sharayray) the Sonoma county social media maven arranged for a wine blogger private tasting lunch at Seghesio and graciously invited me. Also in attendance was Thea Dwelle (@winebratsf), Paul Mabray of Vintank (@pmabray), David Horowitz (@dmhoro) marketing professor at Sonoma State, Hardy Wallace (@goodetobefirst) visiting from Atlanta and heir to the Murphy-Goode throne in attendance with his lovely maiden, plus Valerie Crowell (@WineDog), and Jim Morris (@sonomawineguy).
It was quite a mixed group and I must admit before I got to know some of these folks personally I was a bit wary. Judging from their tweets alone I had the feeling that any type of event with them might be a cross between Sideways and SuperBad a sort of ad hoc Harold and Kumar Go Wine Tasting kind of affair. But to the contrary, these people are pros with great knowledge, passion and respect for wine and all aspects of the business. They have been incredibly genial and accommodating to me, an outsider, looking to learn more about the local wine scene and add the moniker of wine blogger to my writing bag of tricks.
Dan, our host at Seghesio, started us off with a light and zesty Pinot Grigio on the terrace before leading us inside to Angela's Table, a private tasting room for the food and wine paring.
It's all about la famiglia at Seghesio and it’s apparent in every detail. From the black and white photos that line the hallways to the favorite family recipes paired with the wines. Even the redwood in the redwood room had a family history. Seghesio is a living legacy of one family's love of land and wine. It shows in the decor and it shows in the wine.
The wines presented at Angela's table included: 2008 Fiano, a white grape from Campania, the 2005 Rockpile Zinfandel, 2003 Omaggio -a blend of 60% Cabernet and 40% Sangiovese, 2002 Petite Sirah, and the Dionigia Port. You can read more details about the wines here.
The food pairings, all created from recipes passed along generation to generation included; Uncle Ed's Eggplant parmigiana that resembled a tiny pizettea with sausage and cheese melted over a round of eggplant. (Uncle Ed is not to be confused with Mr. Ed of course. But who would do that besides me?) Peter’s spaghetti alio olio with wild prawns, Rachel Ann’s stuffed zucchini, and the spicy traditional family recipe sausage served on brioche with grilled onions. I detected a bit of stone ground mustard on the brioche which seemed rather un-Italian to me, but that could just be a regional thing.
Between the wines, I kept gravitating back to the Omaggio as it paired so well with the sausage and the eggplant parmigiana. It was my kind of wine. A wine that supports and encourages the through enjoyment of something fatty. The Sirah also matched well to the fennel and clove flavors of the sausage. In fact the Italians beloved lardo would be a very nice accompaniment to this wine as well. The more fat the better.
But the surprise for me was the Dionigia port, named after Angela Dionigia Seghesio and made from equal parts Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet. Maybe I’m biased because my middle name is Angela, but I thought this port was wonderful. Paired with chocolate covered almonds, the Dionigia port was soft and full without the high alcoholicky kick I've found in other ports.
After the lunch we adjourned to the patio once again and sampled the 2006 Zinfandel. It reminded me of the type of the wine found in Italy. Younger and brighter with fuller fruityness. (go ahead and add fruityness the to the new wine lexicon along with alcoholicky.)
If you are in the area, stop by and visit Seghesio-- hang out, play some bocce -- and even if you are not of Italian heritage you can adopt the Seghesio sensibility for a day and find your own sense of family in a glass of their storied wine.
Salute and grazie la famiglia Seghesio