Sangiovese from Paso Robles? Certo! A Ranchita Canyon Vineyard Vertical Paired with Spiced Lamb Stew

While Chianti is only made in one small area of Tuscany, Italy, the main grape in Chianti –Sangiovese– can be grown anywhere people want to try to grow it. Surprisingly, this very popular Italian grape is not grown that widely outside of Italy.  Sure you can find small pockets of it here and there in the old and new world: for example check out these three Sangiovese blends from California and Oregon or this Sangiovese from Williamson in Idaho.

Italy’s lead in Sangiovese plantings is significant: it’s the most widely planted variety with 172,500 acres of Sangiovese grown there in 2000, primarily in the central Italy regions of Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Abruzzo and Marche plus Sicily in the south. You may be surprised to discover that according to Wikipedia, Argentina has the second most plantings, with about 7,000 acres, then Romania with 4200 acres, France’s Corsica island near Italy has over 4000 acres, and coming in fifth is California with under 2000 acres in 2010.

Of those acres in California, quite a few are in the Paso Robles region; Clos de Amis makes Sangiovese from there, Four Brix makes a sangiovese based blend, which we wrote about here, and Ranchita Canyon Vineyard makes both a single varietal (see below) and a red based blend.

Sangiovese has aging potential, but generally they are enjoyed at 3-4 years of age, when they are young, fresh and full of fruit. Some say that Sangiovese based wines in the New World don’t improve with age after a few years in the bottle, but we had an opportunity to discover that Sangiovese — at least from Ranchita Canyon Vineyard in Paso Robles– can be divine with 10 years in the bottle.

Sue picked up these wines at the Ojai Wine Festival auction; a few years ago she bought a vertical for the Ranchita Canyon red blend which we loved (read why here), so it was a good bet we’d enjoy these as well.

When we wrote about them in 2018, we learned Ranchita Canyon Vineyard is a small family run vineyard and winery nestled in the north-eastern hills of the Paso Robles appellation at 1000-1400′ in elevation where vines were first planted way back in 1970. They sell most of their grapes, but select blocks they save for their own wines, owner Bill Hinrichs wrote me in an email. The vines thrive in the chalky limestone soil and produce high quality fruit. All of their wines except their Albarino are Estate grown, with a total of eleven different varieties.

“We are primarily growers and sell about 85% – 90% of our fruit, while taking a little from each block to make wine,” reports Bill. “We were home wine makers, and made our first commercial wine in 2003.” They opened their winery 12 years ago in March 2008. In addition to almost 20 different wines, they make three in a port style.

“We are having fun,” says Bill. And that’s possibly most important!

What to pair with these Sangiovese?

With its high acidity, moderate alcohol and body, Sangiovese pairs well with food, and it’s the go to wine for tomato based pasta dishes like lasagna and pizza.

But when I found lamb on sale at the store, I suggested that we go in a different direction by trying a middle eastern lamb stew with those types of spices rather than a more traditional Italian one. Using the instant pot made for an easier meal and more time to relax and to note the quality of the wine.

2012 – Ranchita Canyon Vineyard – Sangiovese – Paso Robles
14.4% alcohol 

Color: Brickish Red Semi-Translucent, coppery, coral rim

Nose: Cherry, cherry cola, Dr. Pepper, eucalyptus, stone fruit

Palate: Cherry, very cherry, bright fruit, leather, a bit of smokiness, balanced tannins and acidity, such a fabulous wine.

Pairing: Think aged strong cheeses, great with spicy salami. No surprise that this wine is fantastic with a bolognese over pasta, the fun surprise was how well the wine went with a lamb stew. The stew with its middle eastern flavors  and subtle spices worked so wonderfully with the wine. The spicy stew brought out spices and nice fruit in the wine. With the vegan ragu John said,  “Good rich and decadent!”

2011 – Ranchita Canyon Vineyard – Sangiovese – Paso Robles
14.1% alcohol 

Color: Blood red, Medium to light translucency, orangish rim

Nose:  cherry, pepper, herbs, earth

Palate:  Baking spices, cherry, cinnamon and cloves, leather, smooth, This wine has such bright fruit with incredible smoothness, rich tannins up front. A bit raisin on the finish.

Pairing:  Great with the LaTur, fantastic with the rosemary crusted asiago, with the tapenade, and the caponata, as well as with the salt cured olives.

The spice in the stew and the spice in the wine are so very pleasing together. The lamb has a richness to it that pairs so well with the richness in the wine. The bolognese does not have the spices that the lamb stew has, but it has a tomato umami that is fantastic with the wine. With the beet salad, the earthy beets, the blue cheese, the spiced pumpkin seeds were all complimentary to the wine. The kale was not so great however. This wine is very bright and fruity with food compared to the other three. There is great fruit, but the acidity was so amazing with this wine.

2010 Ranchita Canyon Vineyard Sangiovese Paso Robles
14.2% alcohol 

Color: Light in color, blood red with an orange rim

Nose: Earth, herbs, smoke, leather, graphite,

Palate: Super smooth, velvety across the palate, Cherry, cherry cola, luscious and smooth, Every time we poured this into the glass tonight we said “Oh this is so good” A little bit of sarsaparilla.

Pairing:  So great with La Tur, salami, Italian cheeses, caponata, I liked this wine with the chickpeas in the lamb stew. Rich and luscious with the beautiful fruit in the wine. This wine and a bolognese is out of this world. There is a completeness to this wine and the food.

Sue: “While I love this wine with food, I don’t need food to appreciate this wine.”

Today the Ranchita Canyon Vineyard 2015 Sangiovese is available for $28 which you can purchase online direct from the winery here. If you’re a fan of sangiovese, you should definitely check out the Ranchita Red, their sangio based red blend that retails for $20, and which also fared well over time.

Monday June 01, 2020 – Tuesday June 16, 2020
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Ranchita Canyon Vineyard
3439 Ranchita Canyon Road
San Miguel, CA

SAVINGS ON PHONE AND ONLINE ORDERS! SAVE 15% or 25% CASE on WINE ORDERS. {MINIMUM 4 BOTTLES} WINE CLUB SAVINGS IS 30% or 35% CASE. (Online orders will not show discount or if pickup. We process the orders manually with discounts, and you can put “pickup” in the address field.) SHIPPING OR “CURBSIDE” PICKUP IS AVAILABLE. GIVE US A CALL for PICKUP. Shipping and North SLO County delivery is available.

So enjoy that sangiovese — today or tomorrow — if you can wait that long! Cheers!

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