Looking for a fabulous wine for the holidays that’s not going to break the bank? Then try Wargin Wines Montepulciano 2011 Suisun Valley. At around $20 (I purchased it at New Leaf on 41st Avenue) this well-made wine is a steal.
First of all, there’s that beautiful word itself: Montepulciano. It would have to be Italian, of course, and it is! Widely planted throughout central and southern Italy, most notably in Abruzzo, this red wine grape is often blended with Sangiovese. But the Wargin wine is 100 percent Montepulciano grapes, and its deep purple juice pairs nicely with meat, pasta and eggplant dishes. I made spaghetti Bolognese for dinner and opened up the Monte. Its robust flavors were nicely matched with the meaty sauce, and the bright acids and tangy fruit make this uncomplicated wine very easy to drink.
Talented winemaker Mikael Wargin is responsible for this wonderful wine. Before starting his own label, he was winemaker and also assistant winemaker for notable local wineries. Wargin sources his Montepulciano grapes from Clayton Road Ranches in the Suisun Valley AVA, where the climate suits this Italian varietal well and it has gained a small foothold in the area. Suisun Valley lies on Interstate 80 near Fairfield, and pretty much next to Napa Valley (and the famous Jelly Belly Factory is also in this rustic wine country if you’re interested in checking it out). Wargin says the Monte is “a talented varietal native to central Italy, late ripening and bold in character.”
Now for a word about Wargin’s eye-catching labels—not the least of which is the Montepulciano label which depicts two musicians clad in yesteryear’s clothing with a glass of wine. Wargin was a label series winner in the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2014 wine competition, and I urge you to visit his website to check out his current releases and see awards he has won over the years with his whimsical labels. His popular 2011 Big & Beautiful is a blend of wines, one of which is Montepulciano, and sells for $18.
Wargin, who I saw a couple of times recently when he and I were part of judging teams for local wine competitions, and his wife Denise Wargin are co-founders of their wine business, and the couple has a daughter, Zena. A quote from their website says, “In November 2011, Zena was born into this wine family and will someday have more bottles than she knows what to do with.” We all aspire to that end!
The Wargins have a tasting room in Watsonville called the Watsonville Winemakers Studios, part of a cooperative with other wineries. You can visit them from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and from 4 – 8 p.m. on the first Friday of the month as part of First Friday Santa Cruz.
Wargin Wines, 18 Hangar Way, Watsonville, 531-8108. Warginwines.com.