Blackberry, blueberry, and cassis qualities are the hallmark aromas of this Merlot. In addition, a minty note is almost always evident, marking the characteristic terroir of the Foppianos Russian River Valley ranch. The six months in oak provide a roundness in the mouth, and leaves a hint of cedar on the palate. It is the ripe fruit which is in the spotlight however. This is the character the Foppianos emphasize in their Merlot.
This Merlots juicy youthfulness makes it an excellent match with Spring Lamb, herbed pastas and grilled brochette of beef. It also makes an excellent companion to chocolate-based desserts, and fruit salads with dark berries as the main ingredient.
Foppiano Vineyards was founded in 1896 by Giovanni Foppiano, a native of Genoa, Italy. Giovanni emigrated from Italy to San Francisco in 1864, walking across the isthmus of Panama en route. He hoped to find his riches in the gold fields of California.
It was Giovanni who founded Foppiano Vineyards after moving to Healdsburg, California when his search for gold was unrewarding. He purchased a working winery called "Riverside Farm" on the same land where today's Foppiano Vineyards still stands and operates.
Petite Sirah, the family's favorite wine, has become the winery's signature wine, and is known nationwide as one of the country's top Petites year-in and year-out.
View all Foppiano Wines
The Russian River Valley is named as such due to its proximity to the Russian River, the river itself named for the Russian fur traders who came down from Alaska in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Russian River is agricultural land. While there is a focus on wine, beyond the vineyards are many small, family-owned farms cultivating everything from cattle to Christmas trees.
The proximity of this cool river and the rolling fogs from the Pacific Ocean make the area amenable to cool-climate grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In fact, the region is quite known for its full-bodied, yet elegant Pinot Noir, as well as their ripe, yet lean Chardonnays. Within Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. Chalk Hill is the warmer of the two and furthest from the ocean, while Green Valley is cooler and closer to the water.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.