Mon 16 Jan 2012
Jim Moore has had a distinguished career as a winemaker in California. He was at Robert Mondavi from 1979 to 1998, developing the Carneros appellation chardonnay and pinot noir programs, reintroducing zinfandel to the roster and redesigning the style and packaging for the proprietary dessert wine Moscato d’Oro. Moore created and developed the long defunct La Famiglia di Robert Mondavi line of Italian varieties, in California (it was an interesting concept), and was instrumental in launching red wines Luce and Lucente, a collaboration with the Frescobaldi family in Tuscany. While consulting with or managing several small wineries, Moore developed l’Uvaggio di Giacomo — “James’ wine” — to exploit the possibilities of Lodi for Italian grapes like vermentino, primitivo and barbera. In 2003 he became the director of winemaking for the Bonny Doon Ca’ del Solo line in Santa Cruz, but left a year later to devote himself full time to revitalizing his Uvaggio project, whose primary purpose now is to produce authentic Italian-style wines at reasonable prices.
These were samples for review.
Uvaggio Vermentino 2009, Lodi, is about as lovely and appealing as vermentino gets. The color is pale straw; aromas of lemon and lemon balm are woven with hints of almond and almond blossom, lime and cloves and a slight astringent note, a sort of breezy sea-salt briskness. The wine is made in stainless steel, except for 10 percent that’s aged briefly in neutral — well-used — oak barrels, a device that subtly influences the supple texture and the touch of spice in the melon, pear and stone-fruit flavors. This suppleness is buoyed by crisp acidity and just a smidgeon of limestone-like minerality that lends the wine a bit of snap. The finish is sleek and a little spare. 11 percent alcohol. We drank this quite successfully with a risotto with kale, roasted parsnips and sage. Now through the end of 2012. Very Good+. About $14.
At first, I thought that the Uvaggio Primitivo 2009, Lodi, was simple, tasty and enjoyable, and there’s not a thing wrong with those qualities, but I came back to it about four hours later to find that it had unlimbered a pleasing arsenal of dark and spicy traits. The color is a limpid ruby-purple; scents of raspberry and black cherry are highlighted by intriguing notes of rhubarb and sandalwood and a slightly earthy undercurrent of briers and brambles, all of which conspire to give the wine a touch of wildness. The wine ages 9 months in 15 percent new Hungarian oak barrels and 85 percent once-used French oak; there’s a dollop (2.5 percent) of barbera. Uvaggio Primitivo 2009 is robust but not rustic, intensely flavorful in the spiced and macerated range of black and red fruit, zesty with vibrant acidity and savory all around. 13 percent alcohol. Now through 2013. Very Good+. About $16.