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Pietra Santa’s 2006 Signature Collection Cabernet Sauvignon deserves high praise indeed. Not only is the wine bright, juicy, and nicely polished, it has received sufficient bottle age to comport itself in the glass. Pietra Santa doesn’t release the estate’s Signature Collection Cabernet Sauvignon until it is ready to drink, a practice we wish more producers of top end Cabernet would consider. Truly, how many high end California Cabernets are really fun to drink in the first few years of life? Not many, for sure. Conversely, after just a bit of aeration, Pietra Santa’s 2006 Signature Collection sings from the glass. It offers up savory scents of blackberry, cherry, and dark chocolate. On the palate, full ripe fruit flavors infused with the soft patina of wood from 45 months in barrel positively glide across the tongue. Although this big beauty weights in at 15.4% alcohol, one would never know it. Fresh, deep, and utterly satisfying, the 2006 Pietra Santa Signature Collection Cabernet drinks beautifully now. Yet, this tasty Cabernet can rest several more years in bottle before it reaches its apogee. For optimal enjoyment, we suggest decanting this wine thirty minutes ahead of serving at cool room temperature (60°-65° F).
Like all of Alessio Carli’s impressive progeny, the 2006 Pietra Santa Signature Collection Cabernet Sauvignon was made to accompany food, and most especially the splendid fare of a well run kitchen. We will confess, however, to thoroughly enjoying this wine without food, but bring one or more of Pietra Santa’s signature recipes to table with a bottle of the 2006 Signature Collection Cabernet and the pleasure quotient comes off the chart. Pan Seared Duck Breast prepared with a Bing cherry sauce and served with wild rice or Beef Tenderloin Stuffed with Mushrooms and Black Truffles are two exceptional recipes from the self proclaimed “foodies” at Pietra Santa. The Blackburns’ favorite Rack of Lamb with Herbs recipe provides another outstanding accompaniment to the winery’s Signature Collection Cabernet Sauvignon. But no matter what food you choose to serve, the main attraction will undoubtedly be this big, beautiful, ready to drink Cabernet. Buon Appetito!
Pietra Santa is a family run estate producing outstanding artisanal wines and olive oils. It is located 25 miles from Monterey Bay in the beautiful Cienega Valley. Founded in the early 1850s by Frenchman Theophile Vache, it is now owned by the Blackburn family. Pietra Santa fashions an array of delicious wines, thanks to the acumen of Italian winemaker Alessio Carli and the estate’s unique terroir. The estate’s proximity to the coast emits cooling maritime breezes that temper the summer sun, resulting in a long growing season and vibrant balanced wines. Moreover, the winery is located on the San Andreas Fault, which has created soils rich in granite and limestone that naturally lower vineyard yields and add distinctive flavors to the wines. The winery was named Pietra Santa, Italian for “Sacred Stone,” in honor of these exceptional soils.
Although Pietra Santa spans more than 400 acres spread across Cienega Valley, adjacent bench lands, and the nearby Gabilan Mountains, only 120 acres are devoted to wine grapes. Each of the winery’s nine grape varieties benefits from the estate’s varied terrain. Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio enjoy steep, terraced hillsides where they thrive under the bright morning sun as well as cool, afternoon shade. Meanwhile, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese are grown on the moderate bench land, while Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are planted in the deepest parts of the valley to receive maximum sun exposure. Pietra Santa’s oldest vineyards date to 1905.
What is perhaps most impressive about Pietra Santa is how winemaker Alessio Carli brings out the best in each of Pietra Santa’s varietals. Tuscan by birth, Alessio first learned to make wine with his father. He then went on to study agronomy at college and later earned a graduate degree in enology. In Tuscany, he spent two years at Fattoria Il Castagno where he supervised the fattoria’s production of both wine and olive oil. He also served as Assistant Winemaker at Badia a Coltibuono, one of Chianti’s most celebrated estates, before coming to California in 1990. He has worked exclusively with Pietra Santa since 1998. His expertise with Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, Tuscany’s premier red grape varietal, appears second to none as Carli’s Signature Collection Cabernet Sauvignon and Super Tuscan style red wine named Sassolino, readily attest. The estate’s Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio warrant special consideration as well. Yet, choosing one progeny over another at any level at Pietra Santa is akin to “Sophie’s Choice.” From our experience Alessio’s olive oils are quite exceptional, too. In short, Pietra Santa is one of California’s rising stars, and its wines are simply not to be missed.
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