Spann Vineyards: New Releases from Sonoma and California 2008-2012

spannsSpann Vineyards is a small artisanal winery owned and operated by Peter and Betsy Spann (pictured left).  Their vineyards are located in the Mayacamas Mountains on a steeply terraced mountainside in Glen Ellen. They dry farm their vineyards and strive for low yields, in some cases as little as one ton per acre.  They also purchase fruit from growers in Sonoma and elsewhere.  Their wines are crafted in small quantities using both New and Old World winemaking techniques.

The Spanns like to make their wines from a wide variety of grapes and produce both single varietals and blends.  Most of their bottlings are stylistically easy drinking and fruit forward with earthy nuances and firm round tannins.  They are reasonably priced and made for short term drinking,     The wines reviewed here are from several vintages and vary in style and quality.  The 2009s and 2010s  are showing good ripeness and texture, , while most of the 2011s are considerably lighter and lacking in concentration and texture.   Perhaps they will flesh out with more bottle aging which we recommend for some of the wines.

As we are currently preparing a new major report on the wines of Sonoma County,  we were happy to be able to review the wines of Spann Vineyards once again.    As we have previous noted,  Betsy and Peter Spann are among Sonoma’s innovative artisanal producers of high quality food-friendly wines.  Looking ahead, perhaps we will see more of their wines being made  from the new Moon Mountain District AVA,  one of the many  unique, albeit challenging  wine growing areas in Sonoma.

Spann wines can be purchased at your local wine shop, and the  Spann website provides a useful guide on where you can find them.

Wine Reviews 

Spann Vineyards Mix Betsy’s Backacher Lot 11 California ($17) 87  Betsy’s Backacher Red, Lot 11 is a multi-year blend of 40% Syrah, 32% Zinfandel, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon,and small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Barbera. It is sourced from wines of the 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012 vintages. Still quite young at this stage of development, the wine shows light dry and somewhat dilute flavors, although it is still a good pizza or barbecue wine.  Spann Vineyards 2012 Cinsault Sonoma Valley ($25) 88  This is one of the very few, and may be the only, single varietal wine made of Cinsault in Sonoma. It offers aromas and flavors of dried plums, cloves and herbs. It is somewhat reticent in the nose but reveals fresh flavors on the palate with a silky texture and a pleasant finish.  Spann Vineyards 2012 Yin-Yang Sonoma County ($20) 87+  The Yin-Yang is a 50-50 blend of Chardonnay and Viognier.  It exhibits light aromas and flavors of pear with a hint of stone fruit and fennel. It has a creamy palate with delicate fruit flavors and a tasty finish.  Spann Vineyards 2011 Cabernet Franc Amador County ($30) 89+  This single varietal Cabernet Franc is soft on the attack with aromas of black currants, dried herbs and spice. On the palate it reveals black raspberries and currants with soft round tannins on the finish. While usually used as a blending grape to add richness to Cabernet Sauvignon, this Cabernet Franc stands up well on its own and is a flavorful wine.  Spann Vineyards 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cross Creek Vineyard Moon Mountain District ($50) 87  The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Cross Creek Vineyard has been one of our favorites from Spann Vineyards. However, the current vintage wine appears to have been impacted by the cool weather and rains of the vintage which produced many dilute and astringent wines including this one from the Moon Mountain District. This wine lacks the intensity of ripe black cherry and the rich texture we liked so much in 2009.  Spann Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mayacamas Range Sonoma County ($35) 90  The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mayacamas Mountains “Seven Barrels” is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, 6% Petit Verdot and 11% Cabernet Franc. Sourced from the estate vineyard at 1,700 feet in the Mayacamas Mountains, this bottling displays concentrated blackberry and cassis flavors and a round and fleshy palate. Aged in new and old French oak barrels, it is nicely balanced with round firm tannins and a long finish. Spann Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mayacamas Range Sonoma Valley ($35) 88+  The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mayacamas Range is blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc from the Spann estate vineyard. Unlike the riper and fleshier 2009 bottling, this one is lightly flavored with hints dark cherries, and could benefit from more depth and roundness. Spann Vineyards 2011 Malbec Sonoma County ($38) 87  The 2011 Malbec reveals light red berry fruit aromas and flavors typifying many of the wines in the vintage. It also has rather dry tannins on the palate and insufficient fruit density to compliment the wine’s 14.5 alc.   Spann Vineyards 2011 Mo Zin California ($20) 88  The 2011 Mo Zin is a blend of 60% Zinfandel, 20% Mourvedre, 11% Syrah and 9% Primitivo. Sourced from Amador, El Dorado and Sonoma counties, it  exhibits light and spicy raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors with a touch of earthiness on the palate. It has good texture with firm tannins and a youthful exuberant finish. It will benefit from another year in the bottle. Spann Vineyards 2011 OMG Sonoma Valley ($30) 90+  The OMG is a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot. It is a big lush wine with beautifully integrated dark fruit flavors and toasted oak. It is soft and silky on the palate with concentrated dark fruit flavors, a touch of earthiness and polished tannins on the long finish.  Spann Vineyards 2011 The Classic Four California ($25) 89  The Classic Four blends 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 20% Petite Verdot and 13% Merlot. It offers vibrant red and black fruit flavors with hints of light toast. It is elegant on the palate with medium weight, a round mouth feel and polished tannins. Enjoy over the next 3-5 years.  Spann Vineyards 2010 The Powerlifter California ($33) 88+  This Petite Sirah-based blend (70% Petite Sirah, 15% Cinsault, 11% Grenache and 4% Syrah) is a fruit forward and flavorful medium-bodied wine offering delicious aromas and flavors of ripe blackberry and blueberry jam. It has a silky texture, good concentration on the palate and polished tannins on the long finish. Pleasant drinking.

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler                                                                                                     August 2014

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