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Duxoup Sangiovese 2018

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Country/State California

Region Dry Creek Valley


Vineyard/Proprietary Teldeschi Home Ranch

Type Sangiovese

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To hoist myself on my own petard – “elegant… old school… Brunello… showstopping… grace…vivid” – all these are words I highly doubt you would ever hear Andy Cutter, owner and winemaker of Duxoup, ever utter, let alone about his own wine wine. Hugh Johnson’s “It tastes like wine, ’cause it is wine” would be closer, finished with Andy’s own flourish of “Now let’s drink it!”

But that doesn’t change the fact that I think this is magical nectar, ambrosia fit for a Tuscan feast (more words Andy would never say).

Andy is, in my estimation, a free spirit who strongly believes in the spirit of what he is crafting; a jovial, happy-go-lucky guy who works hard to keep on going in a wine-making world that doesn’t always look for inquisitive charm and conviviality. Once years ago, after a wine tasting at my store Andy said, “Well, I think I made more friends today, and that’s good enough for me.” And then, without a phone, map (hand-held GPS wasn’t quite here yet), or address, he proceeded off to his next appointment in Green Bay. When I asked if he knew where he was going he said, “No, but I’ll just stop and ask someone along the way.”

Andy and his wife Deborah belong to that free-wheeling California dauntless temperament that struck its wine industry in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Pioneers, following in long-ghosted footsteps, who thought it might be interesting to make some hooch. Many of these pioneers, like Joe Phelps, Joe Heitz, and Warren Winiarski, went on to make millions of dollars in the billionaire playground that is now Napa Valley. Andy and Deb instead still run their small-production gravity-flow winery at the top of a small hill, sourcing fruit from friends whose viticulture they believe in, and producing wines that they themselves and their friends and family love to drink.

And this is his Sangiovese. Now I want to go back to my Brunello comparison. I’ve had the chance to drink some older Brunello, “classically” styled. Meaning the wine is about its perfume, its lively body, bright sense of personality, and its mineral-driven length. This wine fits into that category. It’s got an enormous Sangiovese perfume – cherries, Italian herbs, cranberry, red currant, spice, along with a juicy, fleshy, and lively body. The palate is cool-fruited, vibrant, with good acidity and tannin – but it has also eased sweetly into its maturity. I believe that awesome Italian wine goes incredibly well with the simplest of Italian food. Brunello and pizza. And this wine is no different. Enjoy at any moment, and it will make the moment more enjoyable.

Of course, this wine isn’t Italian. Andy and Deb asked the famous Teldeschi family if they’d be willing to plant some rows of Sangiovese in their Zinfandel vineyard. They are all friends, so they agreed, making this wine what’s called “Cali-Ital,” a category of wine that came and went in an instant, except for a few vintners who love to drink wine with friends – like Andy.

Maybe I’m giving the sense of “time has passed Andy by,” but what I hope to convey is the sense of timelessness to his wines. They are of an unwavering style, in a time and place that sways with every investment in a new wine fad. This wine is a hidden gem, soft-cut and polished to a fine shine, by a craftsman who might have made it his only wedding gift for his youngest daughter. It is a joy to drink.

The winery is small, the wine is always limited. Andy and his local wholesaler made a small stash available to us. Cheers.