The Best of the Pacific Northwest: Sineann Abondante 2009


Peter Rosback of Sineann Winery

How does this guy do it?

How does he produce so many great wines in such a  dizzying variety of styles. How can one guy be responsible for all these:

A) Incredibly rich Old Vine Zinfandel;

B) Crisp and snappy New Zealand Sauv Blanc;

C) Bold but elegant single vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs; and

D) Intense but polished Washington State red blends.

And did I mention this guy has earned several boatloads of 90+ scores for all these disparate styles??

His name is Peter Rosback, master of Sineann Winery. He’s physically located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA near Newberg, Oregon, but his grapes come from all over the place. He’s one of the new breed of winemakers who doesn’t rely on owning acres of vineyards to produce estate-grown wines, but sources grapes from the best vineyards he can lay his hands on. Peter uses fruit from vineyards in Oregon, the Columbia Valley, and even Marlborough, New Zealand. (Yes, he flies halfway around the world to make his Sauv Blanc!)

It’s a smart approach these days, when you have to be a retired football star or race car driver to be able to pony up the multi-$100,000 per acre it takes to plant your own vineyards, and then pay vineyard workers and winemaking staff for seven or so years before you can actually sell any wine. Instead of owning land, Peter locates pedigreed vineyards and then “works closely with” (read, “drives crazy”) his growers to produce the best fruit possible. It’s a way of doing business that allows Peter tremendous flexibility as a winemaker, while still maintaining control over his product.

But if you could say there’s a signature style to all of Peter’s wines, it would probably be intensity of fruit and concentration of flavors. Aha! That’s one of the things Peter creates in the vineyards. He works with his growers to reduce crop yields way below most premium or super-premium wines: he goes as low as one ton per acre. Trust me, that’s LOW! (A premium Napa Valley grape grower might harvest two and a half to three tons per acre).

abondanteSo why does he do it? The short answer is that reducing the number of grapes each vine produces greatly increases the concentration and intensity of flavor in every single grape. And believe me, it shows in Peter’s wine.

So let’s get to the wine. I recently went nuts over the Sineann Abondante 2009, a red blend made with fruit from vineyards in the lower Columbia Valley. Now I have to admit that I ordered this wine without ever tasting or even reading about it: I just figured that I’d love anything from the winemaker who’d made the amazing Sineann Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir (with scores in every vintage hovering near the mid-90′s).

So I poured Abondante at a wine and food pairing dinner, where I’d made an admittedly wild-ass guess about how the wine would taste and pair with my food. Truthfully, I just wanted to drink it. The wine is an intriguing blend of grapes grown in the Columbia Valley. There is Merlot from the Hillside Vineyard, Cabernet Franc from the famed Champoux Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon from the Hillside Vineyard and Zinfandel (yes, Washington State Zinfandel) from vineyards that are reputed to be the oldest in the Pacific Northwest.

Wild, huh?

And it does honor to its name. “Abondante” means “generous,” and those abundant flavors jump right out of the glass. There’s rich berry fruit, which may be contributed by the old vine Zinfandel. There are floral and herbal notes (maybe from the Cab Franc?) as well as some plum and pomegranate. All of this is wrapped up in soft tannins and a round ripeness, but not jamminess, that smooths out the finish.

That’s what I liked best: intensity without weight. The fruitiness and structure all danced happily together, creating a very lithe and refined wine that just happened to be rich in fruit flavors.

This wine was kick-ass. And the good news is that it worked perfectly with Beef Filet Medallions topped with Gorgonzola and a Red Wine Reduction. Who would have thought? Like I said, I just wanted to taste the wine…

Try hard to find a bottle of 2009 Abondante, although it’ll be tough given Sineann’s small production and the ridiculously low price for this wine ($30 in my state). But do your best, because you’ll go nuts like I did… Cheers!



  • Share/Bookmark

Leave a Reply


Wine Accessories

Switch to our mobile site