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Vergari Wines

I recently met David Vergari, an engaging winemaker with an impressive lineup of Pinot Noirs. David grew up in an Italian family where homemade wine was a way of life. It wasn’t until he attended college at University of California Berkeley that he found out that white wine existed! He went on to get an MBA, but by the late 1980s decided he really wanted to pursue a career in winemaking. He attended University of California Davis from 1989 to 1991. Many of his classmates are distinguished winemakers today. After graduating, he headed to Australia to work under James Halliday at Coldstream Hills. I asked him how he happened to chose that course and he replied, “Anyone dumb enough to buy a ticket and work for peanuts could do it.” It turned out to be the foundation of his practical wine knowledge for he spent countless hours drinking wine from Halliday’s 30,000 bottle cellar. He went on to gain experience in Europe and then in California at Phelps where he worked for 4 years. Finally, in 2003 he decided to pursue the dream of most winemakers, his own label, and started Vergari Wines.

I tasted through three Vergari Pinot Noirs over lunch. Each of the wines was distinctive and I like that David’s wines reflect their vineyard source and do not replicate a mirror-image style. Winemaking is essentially by hand, with minimal movement from crushing until bottling. A cold soak is followed by fermentation with native yeast for both primary and malolactic fermentations. The wines are barrel aged (1/3 each, new, once-filled, and neutral barrels) on fine lees for approximately 11 months.

2005 Vergari Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 162 cases, $ not released. This vineyard is located on the Santa Rosa Plain in Sonoma County in the cool Sonoma Coast appellation. Clones are Pommard and Dijon 115, 777. The wine was decanted. · Bright, medium ruby robe. A spicy nose to die for. A wine of great finesse that reveals itself slowly with many complex layers of Pinot fruits, spice, herbs, and sassafras. The texture is all silk and caresses the palate like satin. I feel a glow just thinking about this wine. Great!

2004 Vergari Dunah Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 206 cases, $39. The DuNah Vineyard is located southwest of Sebastopol in the Russian River Valley appellation. The location is very cool, with sugars not exceeding 24 degree Brix. The clones are Pommard, and Dijon 115, 777. Rick and Diane DuNah meticulously farm this vineyard. Besides their own label, have supplied grapes to Flowers and Williams Selyem. · This is a darker and richer Pinot Noir than the other two in the lineup. The scents of black cherries, toast, licorice and roasted nuts are alluring. Dark fruits and forest floor flavors coat the palate. The lengthy finish has herbal and oak notes and a slight bitterness. This wine really sings with food which smoothes out and highlights the fruit on the backend.

2004 Vergari Van der Kamp Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 104 cases, $39. The Van der Kamp Vineyard is located at an elevation of 2100 and is composed of heritage clones and Dijon 777. This Pinot has been slow to come around and wasn’t released until 1 year after bottling. · The wine is burgundy in color and mildly cloudy (David chose not to filter, preferring to preserve the delicate flavors). There is an attractive perfume of spiced cherry-rhubarb pie. The wine is sleek and refined on the palate with elegant fruit flavors underpinned with wet leaf and mushroom notes. The tannins are supple and the finish is clean and lively.

Vergari wines can be purchased directly from David at 626-818-8398 or by e-mailing him at vergariwines@ Look for the wines in some retail outlets and on better restaurants lists. David brings years of winemaking experience to his much-cherished new venture and his initial efforts show cause for much optimism for the future.

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