By Rick Riozza
I simply love the wines of Puccioni Vineyards.
I love how the name “Puccioni” sounds so Sonoma with that old world Italian thing going on. I think of the grandeur of Puccini with his lush romantic Italian opera that also sings in the wine. I’m thinking of the great actor Al Pacino who anachronistically drinks Puccioni with his father in a vineyard while Clemenza is adding the vino to the spaghetti sauce.
I like the way the bottle label is so old school with its rustic vineyard scene sketched in sepia tones; and there’s that stubborn mule kicking high, forcing the first “C” in the name, right damn in the middle of label, to misalign.
And I love the beautiful lush, plush, but restrained flavors of both Puccioni’s Old Vine Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. Whoa! Did that last sentence sound a bit contradictory? How does one reconcile “lush, plush & restrained”? Paradoxical perhaps but in no way is Puccioni a conundrum! You see, these wines are produced from the vineyards in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley, where a massive and masculine wine is capable of class, elegance and a balanced acidity involving spice, earth, pepper, and more, playing in and out on a canvas of purple rain water.
You readers will recall just a few weeks ago, we indeed covered, “The Two True Wines of California”, discussing Zins and Petites. There we casually claimed that no other area in our Sun’s Solar System can produce a Zinfandel or Petite Sirah as well as us in the Sunshine State. And to jog your memory further, remember our 1st Annual Petite Sirah Throwdown in the Desert held at our friendly Wine Vault of the Desert? At the contest, the 2010 Puccioni Petite made believers and converts of the Cab Sauv crowd.
A funny note of sorts: Last summer, I received a bottle of 19 Crimes Red Blend from the UPS man around 5pm, amidst the sweltering heat of August. The bottle was so hot out of the box, it couldn’t be held. The only thing I could do, was to toss it into the freezer to halt the heat. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my efforts, and went on to eat, sleep, and be merry as the wine went on to freeze!
This time, I received the Puccioni Zin & Petite, via UPS, in the late of a March day here in the desert. The bottles were not as hot as the 19 Crimes, but they were warming up! Like a dupe, I toss them into the freezer. At four in the morning, my brain awakes & alerts me of my mistake. Fast to the freezer, I find both bottles lying down with the corks extended and lightly leaking due to the expanded liquid.
Rescuing the wines, I couldn’t resist a quaff or two—even in the wee hours—for the aromas escaping from the bottles were like the sirens sweetly singing, totally inviting me and caressing me into their bouquet. Even as a “frosty slushy” wine, they both delivered a stellar flavor profile that other robust wines, who boast bells and whistles, couldn’t live up to.
On a good day, apart from toil and turmoil, these two wonderful wines will be delightfully welcomed at both the dinner table filled with all comfort foods such as steaks, stews and roasted game and poultry, and, as an apero sipper before and a dessert quaffer behind.
Both wines are handcrafted with loads of personality by winemaker Glenn Proctor, a fourth generation Puccioni winegrower, and, made in extremely small amounts: Old Vine Zinfandel, less than 319 cases produced; Petite Sirah, less than 118 cases produced. Some delicious and “rare” stuff coming your way—enjoy!!
By the way, when you have the time, check out their website and all of the wine news you can glean at puccionivineyards.com. I like the comment that states: “When Glenn was a young boy he worked every weekend with his grandfather, Louie Puccioni, in the vineyard. Grandpa taught him the “hows and whys” of the wine and grape business, and with the release of Puccioni Vineyards “Old Vine” Zinfandel, he can now showcase all that he has learned.”
The 2014 Puccioni Old Vine Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, around $30, is an impressive wine that packs tons of sturdy flavors and exudes ripe, red and black fruits including raspberries, blackberries, black & red cherries, strawberries, red plums along with spice, pepper, and baking spice. It carries an exquisite underlying acidity to lend freshness and vibrancy. This wine goes on and on for the enthusiast who desires complexity in their Zin.
The 2014 Puccioni Petite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley, around $33, is one of the most elegant and full-bodied Petite on the market at a lighter than usual 14.1% alcohol. It features classic elements of blueberry, blackberry and leathery espresso-like chocolate that finishes like a supple Pauillac Bordeaux. And it looks like it will again be one of the more formidable wines in the line-up for our next P.S. We Love You!—Throwdown in the Desert. (Distributors and wineries, get your samples in soon!)
Rick is your somm-about-town conducting & entertaining at the fun wine seminars & tastings held at Total Wine & More, and, at restaurant venues around town. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org