California‐Grown Italian Varietals

LA Times: Inexpensive, terrific wines

Winery: LA Times: “Uvaggio is a project from Jim Moore, a veteran of Robert Mondavi’s and Bonny Doon’s cellars,” making wine from grape varieties indigenous to Italy and the south of France.

Owner/winemaker Jim Moore says, “we are not attempting to duplicate what Europe has to offer. Rather, we are aiming to synthesize the best of both worlds – European elegance, California opulence.” His goal is to offer intriguing and nuanced wines that are also affordable and food-friendly.

With a winemaking career spanning 4 decades, two continents, and a wide selection of varietals, his winemaking reflects an international perspective, not typical California styling. Long-ago recognizing California’s Mediterranean climate, he was an early advocate of planting Mediterranean varietals here. His Mondavi years included work with Frescobaldi to launch Luce and Lucente, as well as being the visionary behind Mondavi’s Italian-focused La Famiglia brand.

Winemaking and Vineyards: Jim describes his style as a Southern European palate overlaid on California grown fruit. He buys only European wines to drink, especially from France, Italy, Germany, so he tries to craft California-grown fruit that would also be European in styling, maintaining a foot in both New and Old Worlds.

Desiring wines with spherically shaped flavors and no sharp edges, he picks based on repeat vineyard visits and experience of taste, touch and look. He aims for whites that are fresh, aromatic, dry, un-oaked and rarely exceed 13% alcohol. Looking for restraint in his reds, they are not over-extracted or over-oaked, all have some barrel aging, but use less than 15% new oak.

Vineyards are generally in Lodi, with long-term grower relationships and ideal climate for these varietals.

Vermentino 2019, Napa Carneros Certified Organic13.5% Alcohol  SOLD OUT!
91 Points, Wine Enthusiast: “Made from a variety more commonly found in Sardinia, this wine makes the case for Carneros, showing a wealth of fresh, inviting peach, lychee and green apple. High-toned acidity highlights a dry crisp salinity and lively style.” Winemaker Notes, Jim Moore: “Aromas of white blossoms & sweet peas; a complex interplay of flavors suggesting citrusy lime, kiwi & tart apple; medium bodied, with a saline mineral hint & palate renewing finish.”
Farmed Certified Organic CCOF in Napa Valley’s coolest appellation. Native yeasts, no malo-lactic fermentation, made with no oak, aged on light lees for 5 months.
There was no 2020 Vermentino made due to the devastating fires and smoke damage.

Montagna Nera (Italian-Inpired Red Blend) 2016 El Dorado 
92 Points, Wine Enthusiast: “This delicious, silky textured wine wraps rich black-cherry and black fig flavors in gentle tannins and adds a hint of bright acidity for a balanced and well-polished expression of mostly Zinfandel and Barbera grapes in the blend.”
43% own-rooted, old heritage clone Zinfandel, with 48% Barbera and 9% mixed reds mountain-grown at 2100 feet elevation on the sloping hills of Cappelli Vineyard near highway E16, producing smaller berries, low yields and concentrated flavors. Cold-soaked, fermented and pressed, the wines were racked to barrels for malo- lactic conversion in neutral wood, before aging 6 months in 30% new, 30% once-used French and Hungarian barrels.

Primitivo 2017, Lodi – Groovy Mokelumne Sub-AVA (say mo-qual-uh-me) New Vintage 
Winemaker Notes, Jim Moore: “Aromatically, the ripe berry aromas mingle with a floral, violet perfume and subtle oak; berry and currant flavors persist in the supple finish.” Night harvested, cold-soaked for 5 days and fermentation started with native yeast, completed in barrels and aged in French oak using very low Sulphur. Blended with 3% Barbera for complexity and aged 5 months before bottling.
Certified Clone 3 Primitivo differs significantly from Zinfandel, with much smaller, more uniformly ripe clusters and smaller, different-shaped berries. Primitivo has aromatics of violet and cassis, and flavors of blue and black fruits without Zinfandel’s anise, black pepper and raisins.

Available trade materials for download. (POS, Shelf Talkers, Data sheets)