Don Sebastiani & Sons Appellation Brands Tasting

Hello Friends,

I recently had an opportunity to participate in Don Sebastiani & Sons’ appellations/brands virtual [Twitter] tasting. The tasting was broadcast live and led by fourth-generation family member and Executive Director Donny Sebastiani and winemaker Greg Kitchens. The tasting focused on several Don Sebastiani & Sons’ brands (Don & Sons, B-Side, Aquinas, Project Paso, and The Crusher) as well as several California appellations (Sonoma Coast, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, and Clarksburg).

The Tasting Line-up

A little about Don & Sons: The Sebastiani family first made their mark in the California wine industry in the early 1900’s when Samuel Sebastiani opened a winery in Sonoma. Today, Don & Sons is a large [production] family-owned wine n├ęgociant responsible for popular brands such as Smoking Loon, Pepperwood Grove, and Aquinas. For the tasting, I received a special tasting kit, containing six 50ml bottles, from Besides all of the wines being red, I found they had a few common characteristics. In my opinion, they all were very approachable [i.e. enjoyed young] and probably would not benefit from extended aging, had a [crowd] pleasing fruit-forward character, and fairly moderate alcohol levels. See my tasting notes on the wines we tasted through below and click here to review the web broadcast of Donny Sebastiani and Greg Kitchens talking about everything from the wines and the 2012 vintage, to a little Sebastiani history. I would like to thank @mwangbickler of Balzac Communications & Marketing for the invite and putting together an informative and enjoyable virtual tasting. Cheers!

Aquinas 2009 Napa Valley Red Wine Blend 

1) Don & Sons 2010 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (SRP $21): This medium bodied wine is composed of fruit from Sonoma Coasts’ two sub-appellations, the Petaluma Gap and Carneros. The wine offers raspberry, black cherry, and pie spice aromas/flavors with a touch of cedar, a smooth texture and good balancing acidity. With Pinot Noir, you typically get what you pay for [in my view], and this is a decent entry-level example for the monies. Click here to find this wine.

2) B Side 2010 Napa Valley Red Wine Blend (SRP $30): 2010 B-Side Red Wine Blend: This wine is composed of five different grape varieties from seven sub-appellations blended together to create a fruit forward and luscious wine with red jam and wild berry aromas with hints of cracked pepper and  sweet spice. The palate is soft and round with smooth tannins and a velvety texture ending in a fruit-driven medium length finish. Click here to find this wine.

Project Paso 2010 Paso Robles Red Wine Blend 

3) B Side 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $30): Medium bodied, easy-drinking example of Cabernet Sauvignon exhibiting black cherry, and blackberry aromas with a hint of sweet spice and a touch of mocha. Overall, a pleasing, well-balanced wine with soft tannins, a balanced acidic structure and a medium length finish. Click here to find this wine. 

4) Aquinas 2009 Napa Valley Red Wine Blend (SRP $40): A tasty Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine blended with small amounts of Merlot and Petite Sirah that’s displays a deep color with an inviting nose of brambly berry fruit, black cherry, a dusting of cocoa, and cedar. The palate is rich and round with a nice depth of flavor, supple tannins, a silky texture, and a long, smooth finish. This wine is only made when the Napa Valley fruit the producer sourced is deemed exceptional. Click here to find this wine. 

The Crusher 2011 Clarksburg Petite Sirah 

5) Project Paso 2010 Paso Robles Red Wine Blend (SRP $15): 2010 Paso Robles Red: This is a kitchen sink red blend of 22% Grenache, 17% Petite Sirah, 16% Syrah, 15% Merlot, 9% Zinfandel, 8% Tempranillo, 7% Malbec, 4% Barbera and a splash of Touriga Nacional that has a red fruit core with scents of berry jam and sweet baking spices. The palate is medium bodied and easy drinking and front loaded with a decent splash of ripe-like fruit with soft tannins, middling acidity, and a short-medium finish. In my view, this is a decent (house red) easy-drinking red for every day enjoyment that will partner well with burgers, pizza, and red sauce dishes. Click here to find this wine.

6) The Crusher 2011 Clarksburg Petite Sirah (SRP $18): Petite Sirah is anything but petite (usually) and very much capable of making big, assertive red wines that are inky (color) and chewy. Add to that, a name like “The Crusher” – and you’d think this wine was a big tanninic monster that’s not for the faint of heart. The name is actually a tribute to the process of crushing grapes and those families whose grapes were crushed to produce this wine. The wine itself is rather tame for a Petite Sirah. It displays a deep color with dark and blue fruit, a touch of vanilla, and a hint of smoked meat with noteworthy acidity. It's smooth and round on the palate ending with a medium length finish. This is a nice entry-level Petite Sirah in my opinion with lush fruit flavors that won’t break the bank and will pair nicely with grilled or smoked meats. Click here to find this wine. 

Click here to visit the Don Sebastiani & Sons website.

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come. Disclosure: This wine was received as a media sample. Thoughts are my own. Happy Sipping, my friends!

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