Friday, October 15, 2010


Ortman O2 Series Sangiovese

Ortman Family Vineyards of Paso Robles, in California's Central Coast wine region, has unveiled a new line of wines which appears to target the younger generation of wine drinkers.  Called the O2 Series, the line is spearheaded by second-generation winemaker Matt Ortman.  The bottles feature rakish, slanted labels and the wines are promised to be "fruit-forward and food-friendly in the Ortman style."

Three wines make up the line, a Chardonnay, a red blend and a Sangiovese, all of which were provided to me for review.  It's the Tuscan-styled effort we are tasting here.  The Sangiovese carries a suggested retail price of $20 and 13.8% abv.  517 cases were produced.

Inspired by Matt and Lisa Ortman's honeymoon in Tuscany, The O2 Sangiovese comes from the fruit of Bob Goodwin's Algunas Dias Vineyard in the upper foothills of Paso Robles.  It's 100% Sangiovese.

The wine is medium garnet in color, a very pretty hue, and I can barely see my fingers through the glass.  The nose is big and fruity - cherries and blueberries leap out - and clove spice is apparent.  On the palate I get big red cherries with an herbal component that’s almost tar-like.  The fruit is in the driver’s seat, but some fairly strong minerality is riding shotgun.  On first sip I think, "Well, this is pretty straightforward."  Then, while rolling the wine around in my mouth I think, "Wait a minute - this isn’t so simple!"  It’s a complex flavor profile, and a nice acidity makes for a lively mouthfeel.  After the cherry-cola finish, I’m eager for the next sip.

Ortman's O2 Sangiovese offers a bigger, fuller mouthfeel than I usually find in the variety.  The spices and big cherry presence remind me of the flavors of the holidays.  The Ortmans suggest pairing their Sangiovese with lasagna or beef stew (or anything Tuscan).  I think it would go very well with a grilled pork chop, or a porchetta. Or that beef stew.

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