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HandCraft: California Wines, with a Touch of Italy

30 Apr

By Sharon Kapnick

If I had my way with the universe, I’d arrange to be born into a winemaking family in my next lifetime. Cheryl Indelicato beat me to it. She’s the third generation of one of California’s oldest winemaking families. In 1924 her grandfather Gasparé planted the first grapes for Delicato Family Vineyards, aka DFV. His family had done the same in Italy for generations. Cheryl joined the business in 1990, working in marketing and human resources. And then, about three years ago, she decided to pursue her dream.

She’d long wanted to start her own wine label, and at last the time seemed right. In 2010 Cheryl and winemaker Alicia Ysais came up with the idea for the HandCraft Artisan Collection. Inspired by the field blends common at her family’s farm table in her youth, she and Ysais found that adding Italian and heritage varietals lifted the aromatics and fruit flavors of the wines, which are sustainably produced from northern and central California vineyards, including the family’s properties in Monterey and Lodi. Cheryl says, “The wines are like me, with a California home and a touch of Italian heritage.”

HandCraft wines continue the family’s tradition of growing good quality grapes and turning them into premium wines selling at affordable prices. I recently had the opportunity to taste them with Cheryl. They’re approachable, fruit forward, food friendly, versatile and very reasonably priced. Available for just a little over a year, the wines have already been winning awards and recognition from wine publications.

THE PORTFOLIO

Chardonnay 2011: Flavors of citrus and peach. A bit of Malvasia Bianca provides heady honeysuckle and jasmine aromas. Medium bodied, good acidity. Serve with salads, seafood and chicken.

Pinot Noir 2010:  Aromas and flavors of cherry, strawberry, vanilla and spice. Medium bodied, elegant, smooth, well balanced. Just three percent of Sangiovese brings out the cherry and vanilla of the Pinot Noir and adds spice and texture. Serve with root vegetables, roast chicken, duck,  dishes garnished with bacon, and creamy potatoes.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2010: Aromas and flavors of cherry, blackberry, chocolate and mocha. Well structured, bold. A splash of Sangiovese is added to enhance the fruit flavors and smooth and soften the tannins. Serve with steak, braised short ribs and blue cheese.

Petite Sirah 2011: Aromas and flavors of blackberry and plums. Full bodied, assertive tannic structure. A touch of Zinfandel adds black pepper and jammy boysenberry. Full bodied. (The 2010 was recently chosen as one of the Wine Spectator’s best-value California wines.) Serve with macaroni and cheese, burgers, grilled pork chops and cheese.

While the suggested retail price for all the wines is $13, they usually sell for $10-$12.

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