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Wine of the Week: Sangiacomo, 2016 Roberts Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Peg Melnik, The Press Democrat, July 31, 2018

Serendipity is mysterious; it makes you wonder if vines have a plan of their own and set everything in motion, calling forth the fate of growers and winemakers.

The Sangiacomo Family, a dynasty of growers dating back four generations, decided to create an inaugural label with the 2016 vintage. Meanwhile, James MacPhail ended his five-year commitment as winemaker of his namesake winery in 2016.

The fate of the winemaker and the growers met at the crossroads of the vines that groomed this wine-of-the-winner — the Sangiacomo, 2016 Roberts Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

The $70 pinot is a wild child with a stampede of red fruit running through it — tangy strawberry, cranberry and pomegranate. It has some subtle savory flavors, with a note of black pepper in the mix. It’s gorgeous.

MacPhail, 52, credits the “trailblazing vineyard” of Roberts Road, which is only 100 yards away from the famed Gap’s Crown Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap appellation. This new American Viticultural Area is known for its “wind tunnel” effect and how it plays out in the bottle. The wind flows off the ocean between Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay, funnels through the gap, then empties into the San Francisco Bay. The wind chills the vines, allowing the late ripening grapes time to develop potent flavors.

“Our family is coming out with a label now because it’s the perfect time,” said Steve Sangiacomo, co-vintner of Sangiacomo Family Wines. “Our vineyards are producing the best wine they ever have, and we are naturally evolving from grape growing to winemaking. We will always be grape growers, and we are excited to let consumers taste the artistic expression of our fruit.”

MacPhail said he knows that artistic expression well. He has deep roots in the vineyard, producing a Roberts Road Vineyard Pinot Noir for MacPhail since 2003.

“I see wine as such a generational product,” MacPhail said. “We get to make it once a year, and so it’s important to really figure out a site — when to farm it and when to pick. It takes so long, and I’ve been in the site for 15 years. It really helps.”

MacPhail said the Sangiacomo tribe surprised him when they all showed up on bottling day.

“The whole family came out,” MacPhail said, even Angelo Sangiacomo at 87. “They stayed for four or five hours. It really sums up how special the family is.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-521-5310 or peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com.