Bella Vista 2016 Sangiovese

Winery/Vineyard: Bella Vista Winery, Hill Spring Farms Vineyard
Product/Varietal: 100% Sangiovese
Vintage: 2016
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Gonzalo Villanueva

Rating: 94

88/100 from Wine Enthusiast
81/100 on Cellar Tracker
Double Gold at 2019 SF International Wine Competition
Silver at 2019 Sunset International Wine Competition
93/100 Double Gold at 2019 American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition

How They Describe It

Rich in color with a cranberry, sweet oak and acacia berry nose. Balanced acidity ending in a smooth light dry and peppery finish. Perfect addition to red meat dish or rich cheeses.

Score 95 pts

How I Describe It

The Bella Vista 2016 Sangiovese shows medium-pale intensity, and mostly ruby red in hue. There’s a bit of garneting, now that the wine has aged for a few years.

Ripe aromas of cranberry, cherry, and strawberry lead the nose. White pepper and rose undertones are notable contributions. Oak and yeast come across with toast, vanilla and cloves, but they are incredibly well integrated and don’t detract from the wine’s fruitiness.

The Bella Vista 2016 Sangiovese is bursting with ripe dark red fruit flavors. Raspberry, cherry, cranberry, mulberry, and strawberry preserves envelope your tongue. Vanilla and cedar notes are warm and welcoming. A touch of white pepper and tomato leaf gives a gentle reminder of Sangiovese’s spicy characteristics, without detracting from what makes this wine superb.

Like most Sangioveses, this is a dry wine. At 14.7% ABV, the alcohol content is high, even for this varietal. However, the bitter or heat sensation which usually comes with “alcohol bomb” wines is noticeably absent here. Acidity is medium-plus, a touch lower than run-of-the-mill Sangios, but this is absolutely not a bad thing in this wine. What’s most impressive is how incredibly balanced the medium-plus tannins are. This wine spent almost three years in oak barrels, and while there certainly are plenty of tannins, they’ve matured enough to add texture without being overly gripping or astringent. The 2016 Sangiovese has a medium-plus body, with vibrant medium-plus flavor intensity, and a luxuriously long finish.

Why is This Wine Special?

(CORRECTON: An earlier version stated Bella Vista is the oldest winery in Temecula. Bella Vista is among the oldest wineries, but between vineyards and wineries changing names and ownership over the last half-century, there are other wineries which have a claim as the oldest.)

I don’t normally deal in absolutes, but this is hands down the most delicious Sangiovese I’ve ever had, to date. Let’s start with that.

Something you might have noticed above is how diverse the scores were for the Bella Vista 2016 Sangiovese. While there is certainly room for judges’ subjectivity, I suspect a significant reason for the disparities is how versatile Sangiovese is as a varietal.

Sangiovese is like the utility player of Italian wine. The way it taste, smell, and appear varies by the region, the clone, the aging process, and myriad other factors. As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising if well-intentioned wine critics tasted the Bella Vista 2016 Sangiovese and said “This wine doesn’t have x normal characteristic I usually expect in Sangioveses. That’s a faulty trait!”

But let’s talk about what this wine has. Perhaps my tongue is sensitive, but past experience, many of the Sangioveses I tried (some highly rated) had acid levels and spice which overpowered the wine’s berry flavors. Bella Vista’s 2016 Sangiovese’s fruit bursts from the glass, with spice and acid adding dimension. The result is a surprisingly well-balanced, flavorful wine which is a joy to drink. This Sangiovese reminds me in some ways of Vindemia’s More Cowbell, but with red fruit dominant where the latter featured more black fruit.

In full disclosure, Bella Vista Winery donated the bottle described here. Other than providing the wine itself, there was no exchange of anything which would have influenced or unfairly biased this review.

It’s also worth noting Bella Vista is among Temecula’s oldest wineries. There’s a lot of history here, and much of what the Temecula Valley AVA is now is linked to Bella Vista’s legacy.

When & How I Would Drink It

Just like how over-proofed bourbon lends itself to mixing in cocktails, the high alcohol content in the Bella Vista 2016 Sangiovese makes this wine ideal for pairing with food — particularly creamy or cheesy foods.

I enjoyed a glass with a pepperoni pizza. The herb flavors of the pepperoni blended perfectly with the subtle savoriness of the wine, and the mozzarella cheese toned down the heat from the 14.7% alcohol. It took an already terrific wine and made it spectacular — which is what proper food pairing is supposed to do.

In that vein, a variety of Italian cuisine and charcuterie boards could pair with this wine. But where it could shine extremely well is Mexican food. The same kind of spice and cheese combination which made pepperoni pizza a nice partner could apply to cheese enchiladas or al pastor burritos. This is absolutely a wine worth experimenting with!

How to Get It

Order Online:

Bottle Price: $43.95 ($35.16 for wine club members)

Cases Produced: ~600 cases

Have you tried the Bella Vista 2016 Sangiovese? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.

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