The Amazing V. Sattui

By Robert Whitley

June 2, 2020 6 min read

American and foreign wine competitions can be, and often are, unpredictable. It's not unusual for an unknown to show up and claim a top award. But some things never change.

One of those would be the inevitability of V. Sattui Winery, one of the Napa Valley's finest. Sattui has long been a giant on the wine competition circuit, collecting major awards and accolades with relative ease.

The winery, situated on Highway 29 in the heart of the Napa Valley, is a must-stop for serious wine buffs. If they aren't first attracted by V. Sattui's beautiful picnic grounds, they are quickly won over by the quality of the vast array of wines. Sattui specializes in vineyard-designate bottlings, though its more generic offerings can be equally satisfying.

Sattui's prowess was affirmed once again over the Memorial Day weekend in San Diego, California, where it had entered 27 wines in the 38th annual San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge. V. Sattui was named domestic winery of the year after earning a remarkable 26 medals, including 10 that were awarded platinum and 12 awarded gold.

In its magnificent run, Sattui also produced a tie for Wine of the Year when two of its vineyard-designate cabernets — 2016 V. Sattui Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon ($92) and 2016 V. Sattui Vangone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($140) — each dazzled with a score of 98 points out of 100. Its Bordeaux-style blend, the 2016 Paradiso ($95), narrowly missed a three-way tie with a score of 97 points.

Import Winery of the Year went to Dandelion Vineyards of Australia, with 12 medals from 14 wines entered, including one platinum and seven golds. Domestic wine Company of the Year (meaning multiple brands) went to Trinchero Family Wines (based in the Napa Valley) on the strength of 43 medals from 52 wines entered, narrowly edging E&J Gallo, which scored 56 medals from 71 wines entered for a "slugging percentage" of 1.1831 compared with Trinchero's 1.2308. Quintessential Wines, an import company based in Napa, was import Company of the Year with a slugging percentage of 1.0400.

Slugging percentages are calculated by weighting platinum, gold and silver awards.

For complete results of the San Diego International, including spirits awards, visit the San Diego Wine Challenge website.

Best Value

Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.

Morgan 2018 Cotes du Crow's, Monterey ($20) — This Grenache-dominant red blend from Morgan is a beautiful offering coming into spring and summer. First of all, it goes down easy. Showing a peppery nose and bright red-fruit aroma, it delivers remarkable flavor intensity without being heavy. It's perfect for summer sipping and a great match for grilled meats from the backyard barbecue. The Grenache (66%) is supported in body and spirit by a jolt (31%) of syrah and a touch of Tempranillo to round out the package. Rating: 90.

Tasting Notes

Dutton Goldfield 2017 Pinot Noir, Dutton Ranch-Freestone Hill Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($72) — The first thing you will notice is the nose. Intense aromas of black cherry and raspberry waft from the glass. On the palate, the flavors match the nose, but there's more — cherry liqueur, fall spice and more. Its firm tannins bode well for a short spell in the cellar. What you have in the end is another rock 'em, sock 'em Pinot from the brilliant team at Dutton Goldfield. This ceases to surprise anyone who's been paying attention. Rating: 95.

AIA Vecchia 2017 'Sor Ugo,' Bolgheri Superiore DOC, Italy ($42) — Borgheri is that sweet spot in Tuscany where Bordeaux grape varieties excel. Vecchia's "Super Tuscan" Bordeaux-style blend, Sor Ugo, shows us how. On the nose, this vintage of Sor Ugo shows notes of dark berry fruits, a touch of graphite and a generous dose of wood spice. On the palate, it is richly layered with aromas of black currant and blackberry, a whiff of coffee bean and baking spice. This wine is beautifully structured, with impressive heft and firm tannins for the long haul. Rating: 94.

Dry Creek Vineyard 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley ($30) — This iconic winery in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley consistently delivers outstanding red and white wines that rival the best in California at a fraction of the price. In a word, Dry Creek Vineyard consistently "overdelivers." This vintage of Dry Creek Valley Cabernet is another great example. Richly layered, showing exceptional fruit purity and impressive depth, it's a wine worthy of extended cellar time and over-the-top accolades. And it's a steal at the price. Rating: 94.

J Vineyards Cuvee 20 Brut, Russian River Valley ($38) — The latest release of J's popular Cuvee 20 delivers a burst of fresh green apple with notes of toasted brioche and almond. With a fine mousse and impressive palate length, this is an elegant nonvintage cuvee sparkling wine that will dress up any dinner party. Rating: 94.

Morgan 2018 Tempranillo, Arroyo Seco ($24) — This is an easy drinking red that will be perfect for summer sipping as we head into summer. Showing pretty notes of black cherry and raspberry, soft tannins and a hint of floral and earth. Rating: 88.

Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Email Robert at [email protected]

Photo credit: Bru-nO at Pixabay

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