Bottle Notes, Buying Wine

A visit with Max Reichwage at Mancini Ranch Vineyard

Reichwage Winery was founded in 2014 by Max Reichwage to fulfill a dream of producing small quantities of classically made Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. Max is the owner and winemaker. Before starting the winery Max studied chemistry at the University of Michigan, and viticulture and enology at University California Davis. Reichwage has two estate vineyards in Sonoma County: Twin Hills and Mancini Ranch. The winery recently opened a tasting room in Sebastopol.

Last week we met Max at Mancini Ranch and the three of us walked the vineyard. Mancini Ranch is situated at the intersection of Piner and Olivet. The vineyard is kitty corner from Papera Ranch and not far from other acclaimed vineyards such as Saitone, Ziegler, Carlisle and Montafi. For me there is no question that the Piner/Olivet area is about as good as it gets for Zinfandel.

Mancini Ranch was planted between 1922 and 1924 by Luca Mancini. The fruit from the 16 acre vineyard goes to Reichwage, Carlisle and Ridge Vineyards. Mancini Ranch is planted to mixed blacks and whites. 21 varieties have been identified from the original planting although most the acreage is dedicated to Zinfandel and Carignane. The vineyard is in vastly better shape now than it was in only 7 years ago when Max purchased it and the Zins from Mancini seemingly get better every year. It was a treat to walk the vineyard with Max and see the various varieties and hear about his vision for the future of Reichwage Winery and Mancini Ranch.

Max was gracious enough to send me back to Seattle with some of his current releases.

2019 Reichwage Winery Pinot Noir Twin Hills Vineyard Sonoma County – Crimson in color. 13.5% ABV. Gorgeous nose of red fruits, cherry cola and baking spices. Medium body with exquisite acidity. Concentrated and powerful with dark fruits in spades. Black cherry, cranberry, plums and earth on the palate. The finish is long and silky. Best over the next 4-6 years. $50 at the winery. My rating: 92 points.

2019 Reichwage Winery Carignane Mancini Ranch – Crimson in color. 13.8% ABV. Sublime nose of red fruits, citrus and baking spices. Medium body with mouth watering acidity. Claret style, crisp and fresh. Cherry, blood orange and white pepper on the palate. Exceptional length on the finish. I’m hard pressed to think of a better Carignane from Sonoma County. Stellar wine. Best over the next 5-7 years. $38 at the winery. My rating: 94 points.

2020 Reichwage Winery White Wine Mancini Ranch – Straw colored and 13.1% ABV. Varieties include Palomino, Muscadelle, French Colombard, Elbling, Burger and Semillon. Compelling nose of stone fruits, lemons and flowers. Medium body with perfect acidity. Crisp and refreshing. Pear, apple and honeysuckle on the palate. The finish is long and supple. White field blends are for the most part a thing of the past so it is a treat just to try this. Super unique and delicious. Best over the next 2-4 years. $30 at the winery. My rating: 93 points.

Later this week I will publish a Bottle Note on the 2018 Mancini Ranch Zinfandel.

There is much to like about Reichwage Winery and I look forward to following this project in the years to come. Readers should strongly consider signing up for the mailing list. On my next visit to Sonoma I also have every intention of visiting the new tasting room.

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