The Lost Chapters is the name of a range of wines made by Paul Scotto and Mitch Cosentino. This dynamic duo of winemakers collaborate on twenty-odd wine labels under the Scotto Cellars umbrella of wines. Both winemakers are blending specialists. Paul considers himself a blendologist, using grape varieties to make wine with layers of flavors the way a chef uses spices to create complex dishes. Mitch Cosentino is a name well known in California winemaking circles (and beyond, I’m certain). He has been making wine for years in California and was the first to market a Bordeaux blend and call it a Meritage.
So, when the folks at Scotto Cellars reached out to us about receiving tasting samples of The Lost Chapters wines I was expecting blended wines. Turns out that was not an entirely accurate assumption. Wine can be fun that way.
In the course of identifying barrel lots for blending at Steele Canyon Cellars, the Scotto Cellars’ Napa Valley winery, Paul comes across barrels that he believes should make stand-alone wines. These barrel lots are the basis for The Lost Chapters wines. Each bottling is relatively small, so when they’re gone it’s time for a new chapter in the book. Let’s taste.
2014 Lost Chapters Carneros Pinot Noir — light to medium ruby in the glass with aromas of raspberries, cherries, black pepper and crushed mint followed by flavors of red cherry, vanilla and damp earth. Flavors are juicy (plenty of acidity) and supported by smooth tannins. A hint of mint lingers on the finish which is medium in length. 14.2% abv. SRP $30. Only 183 cases produced.
This is a juicy, fruit-forward Pinot Noir with generous aromas and flavors. It is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the Sonoma County portion of the Carneros AVA. Aging took place in 25% new French oak.
We tasted all of these wines without knowing any of the production details. Based on the color and generous aromas of the Pinot Noir I suspected other varieties had been blended into the wine. Wrong, just Pinot Noir here.
2013 Lost Chapters Napa Valley Zinfandel — light ruby-garnet in the glass with generous aromas of dark fruit and smoke. Ripe blackberry, dried plum flavors gain complexity from dusty earth, cedar spice and hints of smoke. Tannins are drying and well integrated with the flavors. 14.5% abv. SRP $30. Only 194 cases produced.
Once again, plenty of flavor in this wine which is a blend of 75% Zinfandel 23% Petite Sirah, 2% Merlot. French oak aging took place in used barrels only.
Based on the delicate color of this Zinfandel I wondered if it might not be 100% Zin. The flavor profile didn’t help much as I’m not that familiar with Napa Valley Zinfandel, and didn’t know if it might be from multiple vineyard sites anyway. Well, wrong again. This wine is not 100% Zin.
2014 Lost Chapters Napa Valley Petite Sirah — dense ruby in the glass with dark, ripe fruit and dusty earth aromas. Flavors of ripe plums and blueberries with notes of vanilla in the background. Tannins are substantial and drying in this easy-drinking, medium-bodied wine. 14.5% abv. SRP $30. Only 143 cases produced.
Petite Sirah, sourced from the Oak Knoll District AVA, stands alone in this wine. Once again 100% French oak aging in used barrels.
Using color as a clue didn’t help much with this wine. I thought this might be 100% Petite Sirah but knowing Paul and Mitch’s inclination to make blended wines I suspected it might not be. Wrong.
For us speculating about whether each of these wines was a blend or 100% as labeled came naturally. We know both Paul and Mitch from a blending experience that yielded the 2014 Edition Masthead Mohr-Fry Ranch, Block 33 Sangiovese. The Masthead Project was a collaboration of four wine bloggers (ourselves along with Cindy Rynning and Melanie Ofenloch) that was supported by Scotto Cellars.
Mitch and Paul guided our blending effort, but allowed us to determine the final blend. Ironically, the final wine was 100% Sangiovese with an equal proportion aged in Hungarian and French oak. It was great fun. Our effort resulted in a wine that received 90 points from Wine Enthusiast and 93 points from Tasting Panel Magazine. That was even more fun!