Sarapo is the second label from Eric Kent, and these wines are not made with secondary fruit, but are rather produced with a bit of a twist. Small lots from other winemakers — which would be destined for bulk blending in central California — are “rescued” by Sarapo, blended, and sold at bargain prices. (Cameron Hughes does the same thing, on a much bigger scale.)
It’s safe to assume that these wines — bottled with Italy both squarely in mind and clearly on the label — will vary widely from year to year. Here’s how the current vintages shake out.
2009 Sarapo Chardonnay Russian River Valley Vincenzo – A classic but milder California Chardonnay. A pleasant and mildly buttery body reveals some lemon character. Very refreshing overall, while maintaining its bolder varietal characteristics. (A second bottle was considerably woodier.) A- / $25
2010 Sarapo Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Teresa’s Reserve – Surprisingly good at this price, a crisp, light, cherry-forward Pinot that offers slight notes of tobacco, cedar, and baking spices on the finish. Great balance, easy drinking. A- / $25
2009 Sarapo Gaetano North Coast Molto Rosso – A blend of 46% Petite Sirah, 34% Syrah, and 20% Grenache. Odd, but it works. Piedmontese-styled, almost, you wouldn’t expect something this herbal, lightly smoky, and licorice-tinged from something that’s almost half Petite Sirah. Drying and food-friendly, this tastes like a different animal altogether. B+ / $23
2009 Sarapo Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Elena – I first found this Napa Cab to be a bit drying, but extended time with it has revealed more nuance. Italian-styled like the Gaetano, this Cab offers lots of dried herbs atop a gentle berry core. Touches of leather in the nose. It’s drinkable! B / $27