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Swirl n' Spit
Tasting Room of the Week

Foppiano Vineyards

By Heather Irwin

Lowdown: It takes a special breed of drinker to brave pouring rains, blustery temperatures and near flood conditions on a holiday weekend, no less, just to go winetasting. Despite all of the above, plus a possible sighting of Noah building his ark somewhere around Windsor, the tiny Foppiano tasting room was elbow-to-elbow with eager tasters. What's wrong with these people?

Apparently they like Petite Sirah.

A 100-(plus)-year-old winery nestled in the heart of the Russian River Valley, Foppiano has weathered more than a century of winemaking and come up with a recipe for some simple, yet incredibly nice, reds that don't need a million dollar marketing machine to sell.

Mouth value: One of the mysteries I've yet to figure out at countless wineries is why one has to endure glass after glass of what the winery doesn't do well before you get to what it excels at. In fact, despite being wonderfully affable, the tasting-room staff never even suggested that we try the Petite Sirah—the winery's flagship. Ah, well, being the intrepid drinkers that we are, we stumbled upon it anyway.

The 2002 Russian River Valley Petite Sirah ($23) is a luscious, spicy, bold hussy of a wine with hints of cinnamon and chocolate. This wine could easily age for several more years to ease up some of the tannins, but it's still nicely drinkable. The 2002 Bacigalupi Russian River Valley ($17.50) is also a well-bodied wine that has a more earthy nose, but a bright, fruity flavor. Also yummy were the 2001 Russian River Merlot ($15), with a surprising spicy green-peppery nose and a gentle finish, and the 2001 Alexander Valley Sangiovese ($17.50).

Don't miss: The Fox Mountain label is being discontinued, so there are a few cases of the 2001 Sauvignon Blanc and 2002 Chardonnay going for bargain basement prices ($5 or so a bottle). Both are reasonably drinkable, fruit-forward party wines.

Five-second snob: Bacigalupi means kiss of the wolf in Italian. The tasting-room staff refer to the Petite Sirah as "smootch the pooch" red.

Spot: Foppiano Vineyards, 12707 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg. Open daily, 10 am to 4:30pm. No tasting fee. 707.433.7272.

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From the December 29, 2004-January 4, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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