Winery/Vineyard: Robert Renzoni Vineyards
Product/Varietal: 50% Brunello di Sangiovese + 50% Cabernet Sauvignon
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Olivia Bue
How They Describe It
This Estate grown blend of 50% Brunello di Sangiovese and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon has a bold bouquet of toasted oak, dried cherries and flavors of chocolate, blueberries, cranberry and tobacco spice. Aged 24 months in 50% new French oak.
How I Describe It
Robert Renzoni’s 2015 Sonata takes a lot of color from the Brunello di Sangiovese. After five years in barrel and bottle — considered young by Brunello standards — the wine is an intense medium ruby.
Aromas in the 2015 Sonata come across as both delicate and jammy. Cranberry, along with ripe cherry and strawberry, combine with rose and eucalyptus. Time in oak gives off vanilla, leather, and tree sap.
Cranberry, rich strawberry, and juicy cherry are easy to taste, along with bramble and blueberry. There’s a hint of rosewater and eucalyptus, as well as vanilla and toasted cedar.
This is a dry wine with sticky medium-plus tannins, at a reasonable 13.7% ABV, medium alcohol. High acid (common in Brunello) hits the tongue first, eventually giving way to the aforementioned fruit, floral, and oak flavors. The wine’s body is a pleasant medium level, as is the intensity and finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
Robert Renzoni Vineyards is among the small handful of Temecula wineries focusing on high quality Italian varietals. The Sonata hones in on two varietals commonly grown in Italy: Brunello di Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.
But wait! Isn’t Cabernet Sauvignon a French varietal? The short answer is “it depends.” Cabernet Sauvignon was originally bred in the Bordeaux region of France. However, it was introduced to Italy in 1820 — a few years after Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign as King of Italy ended (yes, that happened). In other words, Italy and France have been closely intertwined for a considerable amount of time. After 200 years, Cabernets today are commonly found in Super Tuscan wines, as well as blended with single varietals to impart more fruity flavors (many Italian wines tend to be less intensely fruity, and more oaky).
It’s also worth mentioning if you Google “Brunello di Sangiovese”, you likely will have a hard time finding a grape which goes by that actual name. Instead, what you’re more likely to find is Brunello di Montalcino — considered to be among the best versions of Sangiovese from Italy. My guess is Renzoni decided on the naming convention to make it easier for drinkers to understand the varietals in the wine, and to account for the wine’s slightly younger age.
When it comes to execution, Rezoni and his lead winemaker Olivia Bue do an outstanding job melding desirable qualities from each varietal. Also, did I mentioned Bue is among a very small, very talented crew of women winemakers in Temecula (and the only one I’m aware who is not an owner)?
When & How I Would Drink It
First and foremost, let this wine breathe before drinking. To experience the full bouquet of aromas and flavors, the wine absolutely needs some time to oxygenate. On the plus side, the wine retains its pleasant flavors and aromas well into the next day, so don’t worry if you need an extra day or two to finish the bottle.
Because the 2015 Sonata’s flavors need a little coaxing out, I recommend pairing with foods rich in acid and salt. For instance, if you’re looking for an easy meal, pair it with spaghetti in a hearty meat sauce. The salt and acid from the tomatoes will amplify the ripe fruit flavors.
The 2015 Sonata could pair well with steak and other red meat dishes, as well, but make sure the meat is only lightly seasoned. Too many herbs and spices could overpower the wine.
How to Get It
Bottle Price: $50 (discount for wine club members)
Cases Produced: unknown
Have you tried the Robert Renzoni 2015 Sonata? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.