Keplinger Sumo 2016
The nose is super dark and exotic, showing layers of blackberry concentrate, tar, bittersweet chocolate, black licorice, black pepper corn and turpentine. The palate is massive, with blue and black fruit, crazy spice, creosote and a long plush finish.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
This is a fantastic red with blackberries, blueberries and white pepper. Full-bodied, layered and solid. Yet, it’s agile and focused for a petite syrah with a hint of viogner.
The inkiest colored wine in the lineup is the 2016 Sumo, which is a Petite Sirah-dominated blend that includes 13% Syrah and 3% Viognier, all from the Shake Ridge Vineyard in Amador County, aged 16 months in 60% new French oak. Its saturated purple color gives way to a ripe, full-bodied red that has good acidity and purity, classic notes of black and blue fruits, lots of minerality, and more nuanced notes of liquid violets, smoked earth, and spice. It’s a layered, ripe, balanced red that I suspect will be drinking nicely in another 15 years or more.
The 2016 Sumo is blended of 93% Petite Sirah and 7% Viognier, aged 16 months in 66% new French oak. It is very deep purple-black in color and a little closed, revealing notes of crushed raspberries, black cherries and warm plums plus hints of wild blueberries, spice box and roses. The palate is full-bodied with a firm frame of very ripe, plush tannins and oodles of freshness lifting the red and black berry flavors to a long perfumed finish.
Dark and brooding, with a polished yet muscular backbone, wrapped in rich and layered blackberry and plum flavors, accented by white pepper, toasted sage and peppered beef hints. Petite Sirah, Syrah and Viognier. Best from 2021 through 2027.
As the lower part of the greater Sierra Foothills appellation, Amador is roughly a plateau whose vineyards grow at 1,200 to 2,000 feet in elevation. It is 100 miles east of both San Francisco and Napa Valley. Most of its wineries are in the oak-studded rolling hillsides of Shenandoah Valley or east in Fiddletown, where elevations are slightly higher.
The Sierra Foothills growing area was among the largest wine producers in the state during the gold rush of the late 1800s. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking was totally abandoned, along with its vineyards. But some of these, especially Zinfandel, still remain and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.
Most Amador vines are planted in volcanic soils derived primarily from sandy clay loam and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nighttime temperatures typically drop 30 degrees and the humidity is low, making this an ideal environment for grape growing. Because there is adequate rain throughout the year and even snow in the winter, dry farming is possible.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended red wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged resulting in a wide variety of red wine styles. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a red wine blend variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.
How to Serve Red Wine
A common piece of advice is to serve red wine at “room temperature,” but this suggestion is imprecise. After all, room temperature in January is likely to be quite different than in August, even considering the possible effect of central heating and air conditioning systems. The proper temperature to aim for is 55° F to 60° F for lighter-bodied reds and 60° F to 65° F for fuller-bodied wines.
How Long Does Red Wine Last?
Once opened and re-corked, a bottle stored in a cool, dark environment (like your fridge) will stay fresh and nicely drinkable for a day or two. There are products available that can extend that period by a couple of days. As for unopened bottles, optimal storage means keeping them on their sides in a moderately humid environment at about 57° F. Red wines stored in this manner will stay good – and possibly improve – for anywhere from one year to multiple decades. Assessing how long to hold on to a bottle is a complicated science. If you are planning long-term storage of your reds, seek the advice of a wine professional.