Our Introduction to Passaggio Wines

Amber and I wrote for Amaré Magazine last summer. It was for their “Summer’s Sexiest” edition. Our contribution was a piece on Napa and Sonoma Rosé Wine. Amber reached out to fellow wine-writers and asked for recommendations. Many of those asked suggested the Rosé of Tempranillo from Passaggio. Tasting it, we could see why it was so popular. The rosé was crisp, refreshing, and food friendly.

When we headed to Sonoma for Amber’s birthday brunch, we knew we had to add a visit to the Passaggio tasting room. It nestles in an alleyway off the main square in downtown Sonoma.

Cindy Cosco – Owner and Winemaker

Cindy Cosco, the owner and winemaker of Passaggio met us in the tasting room. She told us how after fifteen  years in law enforcement in Virginia she had headed West. How she had worked the 2004 harvest for Chateau St Jean in the lab. Then in 2007 she went to work as Lab Manager at  Crushpad  in SF. She made the first wine under her Passaggio label in 2008. This was an unoaked Chardonnay.  By 2011, Passaggio was her full-time gig.

Cindy opened the Sonoma tasting room in 2014. Now she offers a wide range of white, rosé, and red wines.

Passagio Passion Cuvee

Tasting White Wine at Passaggio.

We started with the Passion Cuvée; a blend of Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, and Rousanne. The nose was rich and tropical. Sharp, tart apple was at the fore when I took a sip. A vein of minerality ran through the wine. Peaches and cream emerged in the finish. A refreshing wine, with an artful complexity.

The second white wine was a Sauvignon Blanc. The wine blended from two vineyards. The nose was not the typical astringent assault on the nostrils. A pleasing aroma of peaches and just a hint of mown grass. The mouthfeel was soft with notes of gooseberry and peach. The clean finish exposed a flint underpinning. Good, but it paled in comparison to the Passion Cuvée.

Tasting Rosé Wine at Passaggio

We tried two rosé wines; the Tempranillo that had so impressed us last year and the other was made from Aglianico. This latter grape is most commonly associated with Southern Italy. The excellent Wine Folly provides the following pronounciation for the grape: “alli-yawn-nico”.

The Aglianico was very pale; an off-hue yellow. If I had seen it in a glass without knowing it was a rosé, I might have guessed at an oaked Chardonnay. The nose provided subtle floral aromas. The wine was mellow and creamy. Light cedar notes were overlaid with apple and lime. The Passaggio Aglianico is excellent; I prefered it to the Tempranillo.

Passaggio Connect

Tasting Red Wine at Passaggio

We started the red wine part of the experience with a 2016 Mourvèdre. The wine had a pale translucent colour. The nose an intense mélange of plum, loam, and herbs.  The wine led with cherry and cranberry notes balanced by great acidity and soft, dusty tannins. The long finish softened into raspberry and wood.

Staying with Rhône varietals, our second red was the 2016 Syrah. Light in colour, the nose was of redcurrant and mint.  The mint was present in the flavours, along with red fruits and black tea. As with the previous wine, there was a long and soft finish.

Next we tasted 2016 Merlot. The fruit for this wine came from Thomson Vineyards in Napa Valley. The nose was intense, with dark fruit backed up by cloves and cinnamon. The wine was vibrant, with redcurrant, plum, and spice in the form of black peppercorn. These flavours supported by muscular tannins.

The fourth wine was the 2016 “Connect”, a Bordeeaux blend: 60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. The front label lists those percentages as 60.30.10, without reference to the grape varieties. The 2017 vintage bears the legend 45.36.19; very different from the one we tasted. An intense nose heavily laden with plum greeted us. Excellent acidity with redcurrant, raspberry, and green pepper. The wine was lighter in body than most California Bordeaux style wines; closer to the real thing.  Fruit and dusty tannins lingered in the medium length finish. An excellent wine.

We finished our tasting with the 2016 Teroldego, made from Lodi fruit. This grape is usually associated with North-eastern Italy. The medium intensity bouquet was of plum and pepper. The wine was bright, with food friendly acidity. Flavors of sour cherry and apple combined with subtle tannins.

Passaggio Airedale


Cindy Cosco was an engaging and friendly host. Beyond her presence, though, we would recommend a visit to Passaggio. The tasting room manager was friendly. More importantly, the wines shared a common theme. All were balanced, subtle, and are food friendly.


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