Sonoma’s Spann Vineyards: New Releases from the 2013-14 Vintages

Spann Vineyards is a small artisanal winery owned and operated by Peter and Betsy Spann.  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 very small quantities, usually no more than a few hundred cases.

Peter & Betsy Spann

These new releases are among the best wines the Spanns have crafted since we began reviewing them over seven years ago.  The improvements appear to be the result of several factors: better sourcing of grapes, better winemaking, continued innovation and successful vintages.  In our tastings we found most of the wines had  nicely ripened fruit with fresh aromas and flavors.  The winemaking revealed a light touch for the most part with most wines revealing good acidity and balance, well integrated oak,  well honed tannins and silky textures.  The blending of the wines was also superbly accomplished.   Even with these achievements, looking ahead, the Spanns  may give some thought to reducing the number of different cuvees they produce, since not all of them are equally successful.   That said, the Spanns  have a bright future  in Sonoma.

Wine Reviews and Ratings:

Spann Vineyards 2016 Yin-Yang North Coast ($22) 89+Yin-Yang is a tasty blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Viognier. It displays tropical fruit and floral aromas with a hint of white peach. It has good flavor concentration on the palate with excellent acidity and freshness and a good finish.   Spann Vineyards 2014 Primitivo Sonoma Valley ($30) 89 A nicely crafted Primitivo with a red fruit orientation, nice balance and refinement on the palate, good acidity and pleasant drinking  Spann Vineyards 2013 Zinfandel Sonoma Valley ($30) 90  The 2013 Zinfandel displays a red fruited nose with good purity on the attack. On the palate it offers refined red cherry and berry flavors with a hint of cola berry sweetness. It is medium weight with good concentration and a lingering finish. Spann Vineyards 2014 Malbec Sonoma ($40) 90+ This Malbec, which is blended with 20% Merlot, displays fresh and vibrant candied dark red fruit. It has a silky texture, accessible tannins, good acidity and a persistent finish with lingering red fruit notes. Spann Vineyards 2013 OMG Sonoma Valley ($37) 91 OMG is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. It offers a nose of savory red currant fruit, herbs, and a hint of tobacco. It has a nice silky mouthfeel and overall refinement making it clearly among the very finest cuvees from Spann Vineyards.  Spann Vineyards 2014 The Classic Four California  ($29) 91  The Classic Four grapes in this blend consist of five varieties: 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc  20% Merlot, 10% Malbec and 9% Petit Verdot. It is a big wine with fresh fruit and concentrated flavors, beautifully integrated with toasted oak and spice. However, the tannins are firm and somewhat dry and the finish is of medium length.  Spann Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Cross Creek Vineyard Sonoma Valley ($65) 88  The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Cross Creek Vineyard is medium-bodied and offers light aromas and flavors of black currant and cassis fruit with spice notes. On the palate it reveals high acidity, firm tannins and a somewhat short finish. This high altitude vineyard at the top of the Mayacamas Mountains appears to present challenges for ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. Spann Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Mayacamas Range Sonoma County ($40) 92  The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Mayacamas Range is a lovely, medium-bodied wine offering pure and richly flavored black currant and cassis mountain fruit.  Aged 27 months in French oak, it is nicely integrated and refined in character and has a long pleasant finish. Spann Vineyards 2014 Petit Verdot Sonoma County ($42) 88  The Petit Verdot (blended with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon) displays a black currant and red scented nose with hints of blueberry and plum fruit. It has good flavor on the attack but reveals tart dry tannins on the mid-palate and the  finish.  Spann Vineyards 2014 MoJo Sonoma County ($44) 91  MoJo is a dark fruited blend of 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Malbec, 23% Syrah and 10% Petit Verdot. Big and chewy on the attack, MoJo is mouth filling with concentrated peppery flavors, firm dry tannins and a lingering rich finish.  Spann Vineyards 2014 S & M Sonoma County ($34) 90 This is a lovely fruit forward blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Malbec. It offers delicious dark berry fruit with excellent acidity, firm round tannins and a big flavorful juicy finish.  Spann Vineyards 2014 The Powerlifter Sonoma Valley ($37) 91  A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah, the Powerlifter offers concentrated dark fruited flavors with oriental spices. It is softly textured on the attack revealing good density and richness and an unctuous finish. This wine is named after co-owner Betsy Spann who holds two world records in powerlifting!!

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