Europa Village 2016 Sangiovese

Winery: Europa Village
Product/Varietal: Sangiovese
Vintage: 2016
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: George Bursick

Rating: 90

How They Describe It

Tasting Notes
Roses, Violets, Cola and Caramel on the nose; silky and round on the palate, very gentle acidity and tannins.

Winemaker Notes
This particular clone of Sangiovese (VCR-06) was specifically selected for our terroir and is grown on the south facing slopes here in our estate vineyards. The fruit was handpicked on September 16th with initial soak in stainless steel, followed by malolactic and maturity in a combination of French and American oak barrels for 28 months.

Food Pairing Notes
This delicious wine pairs well with Gnocchi with sage and butter sauce.”

How I Describe It

I poured this wine directly from the bottle and let it sit a few minutes to oxygenate. The wine is mostly ruby-red colored, though there’s a bit of an orangey garnet hue from spending over two years in oak. Industry nomenclature would consider the 2016 Sangiovese “pale” by red wine standards, but that term fool you.

For context, a wine is considered “deep” when you can’t see anything through it. There are very few wines which are naturally deep (e.g., Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, some Zinfandels), but that could also be the result of the winemaker using certain food colorings which don’t need to be disclosed.

A wine is considered “medium” if you can pour a glass and see any light through it — any light at all. Many Cabernets are considered medium colored.

“Pale” colored red wines are wines which show clearly through. However, they still have a distinctly red color; in other words, definitely not a rosé. Without introducing foreign coloring, the thing which largely determines the darkness of red wines is the skins. And while skins can influence the amount of tannin in a red wine, it doesn’t necessarily affect the amount of flavor. The 2016 Sangiovese has plenty of flavor to go around.

Red fruit and oak — that’s what you’re going to get primarily from Europa Village’s 2016 Sangiovese. Cranberry stands out most, but as the aromas settled in I sensed white pepper, cedar, and red cherry.

For me, Italian wines are hit-and-miss. Too often the fruit flavors are masked by too much oak, and the pungent spice flavors are way too pronounced. The Europa Village 2016 Sangiovese, though, was a treat.

First, it’s important to distinguish dryness and fruitiness. Far too often, at far too many tasting rooms and wine retailers, you’ll find educators who fail to differentiate the two. They are two very different flavors: dryness is the sensation you feel based on how much sugar was left in the wine; fruitiness is how much the wine tastes like, well, fruit.

The Europa Village 2016 Sangiovese is certainly dry. However, it is also very fruit-forward. As with the aroma, cranberry is the primary flavor I tasted, with notes of red cherry, red plum, and raspberry. There’s a grassy, slightly herbaceous element, coupled with spicy white pepper, cloves, and cedar.

Like most wines produced in the Temecula Valley AVA, the 2016 Sangiovese has a high alcohol content. At 15.4%, it can pack a potent punch if you’re not careful. The tannins were surprisingly smooth given the amount of time the wine spent in new oak, and the acid is tempered by malolactic fermentation, balancing the heat of the alcohol with a velvety, almost creamy mouthfeel.

Why is This Wine Special?

Europa Village is one of the wineries in Temecula which is up-and-coming. The quality has increased tremendously over the last few years, as they continue to improve their winemaking practices. It’s a winery to watch and consider collecting.

It’s worth noting the quality of 2016 Sangiovese. It lacks some of the spiciness and oakiness you’ll commonly find in wines from that varietal, but I consider that a positive. The fruit doesn’t need to hide behind these secondary flavors, something indicative of the grapes being picked by hand as opposed to machine-harvested. The result is a pleasant, easy drinking experience which appeals to most palates.

A quality I respect tremendously in Europa Village is the experience they offer to guests who visit. The Temecula Valley AVA produces amazing wines, but without comparison it’s difficult to distinguish what makes Temecula wines different. Europa Village also produces wines with grapes from Napa and Paso Robles, and while I won’t review those bottles, it’s incredibly interesting to directly compare these wines side-by-side.

Another interesting aspect of Europa Village is how they brand their wines by country of origin. Their French varietals (e.g., Syrah, Merlot, etc.) are part of their C’est La Vie portfolio; the Spanish varietals (e.g., Tempranillo, Albariño, etc.) fall under the Bolero line; and the Italian varietals like the 2016 Sangiovese comprise what they call La Vienza. On the Europa Village property, each brand has its own tasting room, and the winery is in the process of expanding each regional brand to its own “village” (think Disneyland for wine).

When & How I Would Drink It

This is a quintessential table wine. It works well for a dinner with friends who have a variety of wine preferences, as it could appeal to many of them. The high alcohol and velvety mouthfeel make the 2016 Sangiovese a great fit for lighter meats like pork or chicken, as well as pastas immersed in buttery or creamy sauces.

How to Get It

Order Online:

Bottle Price: $36.00 ($28.80 if you join Europa Village’s Societé wine club)

Cases Produced: 403

One Comment

  1. Vino Temecula

    I dropped into Europa and gave this a try. It’s quite surprising how much aroma and flavor is packed into such a pale wine. Their 2016 Monastrell is similar in that regard but packs a more intense, lingering finish than the Sangiovese.

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