2006 Sbragia Family Vineyards Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Codename: The Red Mountain

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Send Agent Red to Sbragia Family Vineyards, at the extreme outskirts of Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. Instruct him to return with a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon that is worthy of our Operatives exacting tastes.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Sbragia Family Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2006 Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Ed Sbragia

Backgrounder: We first became acquainted with Ed Sbragia’s winemaking prowess when we began featuring the wines that he made for wine icon, Beringer, in the Napa Valley. Ed, whose grandfather and father made wines, spent more than 30 years at Beringer, perfecting his skills. Today, Ed is Winemaker Emeritus at Beringer – and his family winery produces an amazing assortment of remarkable wines.

Regional Backgrounder: The Sonoma Valley AVA is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California with the first vines being planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacama mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides ideal growing conditions for Zinfandel and, especially, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Darkest burgundy with an inky heart of nearly black plum juice. At the edge of the wine, the finest ring of soft purple encircles the glass. When swirled, tall legs start high up the rim of the glass before marching their way steadily down.

Smell – Bold and vibrant with aromas that leap from the glass, led by lush blackberry, black currant, black plum, black cherry, dark chocolate, soft cedar and hints of anise, tobacco leaf, soil and fresh mixed herbs.

Feel – Lush and fleshy, with full feel that is also supple at the same time. This wine starts soft and full, but then softens as it sinks in, revealing supple tannins and a soft, spreading, mineral dryness.

Taste – Black currant, blackberry and black cherry are the lead flavors in this lush-tasting wine. These are followed, closely, by black plum, ripe blueberry and dark chocolate. Follow-on flavors of sweet herbs, earth, smoky oak and anise emerge after you swallow.

Finish – Long and dark at first, with berry flavors that eventually yield to herbs, anise and dusting chocolate – with a hint of flint at the very end.

Conclusion – This is a true Cab-lover’s Cabernet Sauvignon. It is big and bold, with plenty of character, but the wine also shows an elegant side. For best results with this dark treasure, decant for at least 30 minutes. Expect a softer wine with more detailed flavors and fresher aromas. Ed Sbragia shows of his winemaking in today’s fantastic Cabernet. He also shows off his connectedness; Today’s wine comes from the famous Monte Rosso Vineyard, which is owned by longtime friend, Michael Martini, grandson of wine legend, Louis Marrtini. The Monte Rosso Vineyard is legendary for producing some of the most sought after wines in the region.

Enjoy today’s wine with a grilled steak, and be sure to cellar a few bottles of this age-worthy wine for 5 years or more!

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Edward Sbragia

WINE EDUCATION: BS Chemistry, UC Davis. MS Wineaking, CSU Fresno

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Chemist at Gallo, winemaker at l. Foppiano, Winemaster, Senior Vice President Beringer Vineyards, Owner/President Sbragia Family Vineyards.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Wine is made in the vineyards. We are the just the protectors of the wine.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: Wine is food. It is made for great meal and great friends.

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: I started at Beringer in 1976. My own winery Sbragia family vineyard first release was September of 2004


AGENT RED: Greetings, Ed and Adam Sbragia. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Monte Rosso today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

WINEMAKER: Our pleasure, Agent Red!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

WINEMAKER: We grew up in an italian house hold. Adam, my son and Ii grew up in a farmer and winemakers’ world. My dad’s name was Gino – a farmer/winemaker. We had wine at the table and the wines were pure to type and also well made.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

Ed: When I first started making wine my boss was Myron Nightingal who taught me a love of white wines specially Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and my dad making superb Dry Creek Zinfandels. Between the two I fell in love with Cabernet Sauvignon also. I made Sonoma and Napa Valley cabs all my life.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

WINEMAKER: Myron used to say, “To thy own self be true”. Great wines come from great vineyards. Winemakers need to make the wine to make them happy. If you can’t make yourself happy it is hard to make anybody else happy.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

WINEMAKER: This comes from a famous vineyard planted by Louis Martini who was Myron Nightingale’s classmate in the class of 1941 at the school of agriculture at the University of California at Berkeley in 1941. He was responsible for a lot of the grape clones we use today. Monte Rosso is in Sonoma Valley on a western facing slope of the Mayacamas Mountains. It is at about 1000 ft in altitude. Monte Rosso refers to the iron laden soils that give the wine a great structure and at the same time have the supple elegance of a Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

WINEMAKER: I love this wine with grilled meats. Lamb or beef.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Sonoma Valley so special?

WINEMAKER: Sonoma is influenced by the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific is about 52 to 55 degrees. This cool climate influences come from San Francisco bay and the Russian River.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

WINEMAKER: it is the middle of harvest….so the vineyards and fermentations are occupying all of our time!

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

WINEMAKER: We make rich flavorful wines that stand alone or accompany a meal

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

WINEMAKER: I hope you enjoy the wine as much as Adam and I enjoy making them and drinking them!

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Sbragia Family Vineyards winery, at the very end of the Dry Creek Vally, can be seen in this satellite photo.

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