Text Size:-+

2002 Spann Vineyards "Mo Jo" Red Blend, Sonoma

Everyone comes to the wine business from different places and for different reasons. Peter and Betsy Spann describe their entry into the wine business as "a combination of stupidity and bad real estate decisions." Peter had worked in the wine business for years - in retail, wholesale, marketing, you name it - when he and his wine decided to move to the Bay Area for work during the height of the dot.com boom. They couldn't afford to buy a house anywhere near San Francisco and so started looking farther and farther north until they found themselves visiting properties that came with vineyards in the back yard. Thinking that the grapes could be a source of additional income, they purchased a property outside of Glen Ellen and attempted to sell their first vintage just as the dot.com bubble was exploding. No one would buy. So they did what anyone else who harbored a love for wine would have done in that situation. They made their own wine.

Peter and Betsy Spann grew up drinking old world wines that were a blend of multiple varietals, and when they decided to make their own wine, they very consciously decided to make wines based on that tradition of blending, and using techniques from the old world. Every Spann wine is hand harvested, destemmed, and crushed by foot treading. In most of their vineyards they dry farm, using no additional irrigation, and their yields are microscopic -- in some cases as low as one ton and change per acre.

They make several wines including a Cabernet from the Mayacaymus range, a Zinfandel from Russian River (blended with 12% Mourvedre), a Syrah Zinfandel Blend, a Chardonnay/Viognier blend, and this wine in the style of a Super Tuscan which is a blend of 64% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet, 14% Merlot, 4% Syrah, and 3% Petite Sirah. In keeping with their old world inspiration, the Spann's age their fruit in a combination of French, American, and Hungarian oak for roughly 14 months before bottling.

Peter says that one of his favorite elements of a wine is its finish, and that he and Betsy are particularly averse to wines that show the heat of their alcohol level, no matter what level it is at. They strive to make smooth, lively, food friendly wines that drink well young but have a reasonable amount of aging potential.

In addition to this wine, I've also tasted their "Mo Zin" and can say that if these two wines are any indication, they've succeeded at their goal.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is a medium ruby color in the glass and has a rich nose of coffee and chocolate with some slightly floral overtones. In the mouth it is dense with exotic tea flavors that wrap around a core of brilliant cherry fruit and taper into a long finish of Indian spices that trail off for a good long while. It is well balanced and sits right on the edge of the divide between old world and new world in style.

Food Pairing:
While it goes against some traditional notions of food and wine pairing, I'd actually serve this wine with this soy glazed red snapper with sautéed vegetables and sweet potatoes. The soy glaze and the sweet potatoes require a wine that has a little bit of earth and spice to it but the wine is delicate enough not to completely obliterate the taste of the fish (any more than a soy glaze does already).

Overall Score: 9

How Much?: $20

These wines can be tricky to find as they are made in quantities below 400 cases. Their "Mo Zin" Zinfandel is available online, but so far I haven't been able to locate this wine at a retailer (other than in an obscure wine bar in Park City Utah).

Comments (8)

01.28.05 at 5:09 AM

found the sangio blend and the cab in connecticut...can't wait to try!

Alder wrote:
01.28.05 at 9:13 AM

Thats great news. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks for reading Vinography.

Brian Daly wrote:
09.17.05 at 9:43 AM

Mo-Zin is available in Columbus, Ohio. Not sure what store as I heard this from a relative.

10.13.05 at 10:46 AM

I had the pleasure of a glass of your 2002 MoJo. It was the best! I would love to be able to purchase.

Alder wrote:
10.13.05 at 10:52 AM


Vinography.Com is not affilliated in any way with Spann Vineyards. If you are interested in purchasing the wine you should contact the vineyard or look for an e-commerce site that sells the wine.

skip mchardy wrote:
02.14.06 at 2:11 PM

Found the chard-viog blend in a new shop in Delray Beach, FL. WAS EXCEPTIONAL!!! I think this Peter Spann use to be a wine expert for Martin wine Cellar/Wines Unlimited in the mid 70's.

John wrote:
07.15.06 at 11:47 AM

The Spann Vineyards Char/Viog combo is available (in smaller quantities than when I first encountered it) from Boulder Liquormart in Boulder, Colo.

It's stunningly good. Label says they only made 890 cases.

Drew Goin wrote:
08.18.06 at 7:40 PM

I am the wine buyer at a shop in Shreveport, Louisiana, and we have had great success with the Spann wines. The Syrah, MoZin, and their Chard/Vio blends have been on the racks for a couple of years, and have proven to be some of the most food-friendly wines I have ever enjoyed. Seek them out!

Comment on this entry

(will not be published)
(optional -- Google will not follow)

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Buy My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

Tallying the Damage from the Napa Quake Vinography Images: A Sea of Blue Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 14, 2014 The Taste of Something New: Introducing Solminer Wines Vinography Images: Swift Work Social Media Answers the Question: Where Did Australian Wine Go Wrong Hourglass, Napa Valley: Current and Upcoming Releases Drought Problems? Just Have an Earthquake Vinography Images: Just One Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 1, 2014

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.