- SOUTHERN WINE & SPIRITS of AMERICA, South Carolina division, announced the appointment of Thomas E. Collins to vice
president and general sales manager.
- IRON HORSEs Joy Sterling
predicts an international shortage of prestige Sparklings and Champagnes come December
1999. "Not everyone agrees," she says. "Some say there will be plenty to go
around, but I feel very strongly that if the 10 days during the World Cup in France were
any indication, consumption is going to skyrocket. Im urging my friends to think
( beyond New Years Eve. Every birthday, anniversary and holiday will seem that much
more momentous for a three-year stretch from 1999 through 2001." Joy adds that the
sparkling process calls for aging the wines before release, in the case of Iron Horse
its five years. The 1994 vintage will be the youngest vintage available. "There
is only a finite quantity of this caliber of Sparking, so if you have a favorite, why not
secure it now?" Why not indeed.
- THE FRENCH LEGATION MUSEUM
documents the fact that France was the first (and only) major European power to recognize
the Republic of Texas. France sent an agent to observe diplomatic relations and the French
Legation was his home in the 1840s. He spent a good amount of time at the Legislature
concerning himself with tariffs and taxes, particularly on French wines that were
competing with the Texas industry. The mission of the Museum is preserve the heritage of
the French Legation of the Republic of Texas and to educate the public about Texas history
and culture. The museum staff believes that our historic Texas places must be preserved,
maintained, and help people discover and enjoy our rich heritage. It receives no funding
from the state and relies on what can be raised from grants, fundraising events, gift
shop, admissions and from the public. One dollar sponsors a child for a visit, ten dollars
pays for educational materials, seventy-five dollars covers the cost of an entire class to
rent a school bus to visit the museum. Theyd appreciate any tax-deductible donation.
Please send checks (French Legation Museum) to Friends of the French Legation, 802 San
Marcos Street, Austin, TX 78702 (512) 472-8180, www.french-legation.mus.tx.us
- DRY CREEK VINEYARDS President David
Stare announced that Jeff McBride has assumed all responsibilities for winemaking. McBride
has been senior winemaker at Kenwood Vineyards since 1978. Dry Creek, established in 1972,
is a 120,000 case winery located in the heart of Dry Creek Valley.
- MICHEL-SCHLUMBERGER Wines Ltd. of
Healdsburg, CA, has introduce an exclusive new collection of French wines to key U.S.
markets. Jacques Schlumberger has expanded his companys domestic portfolio by adding
the French dimension of small domaines and châteaux in Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy,
Languedoc, Loire and the Rhône. Roy Cloud is the import portfolio manager.
- STEVE TEST has joined Merryvale
Vineyards as winemaker. Formerly, Steve was with Stonestreet.
- JEFF McBRIDE has joined Dry Creek
Vineyards as winemaker. Previously, Jeff was winemaker at Kenwood.
- MARCO DiGIULIO is the new winemaker
at Lokoya and will continue to make wines at Robert Pepi.
- JOSEPH PHELPS VINEYARDS 1995 INSIGNIA was awarded "Best Red Wine" at San Francisco International Wine
- ZACA MESA 1996 ROUSSANNE was
awarded "Best White Wine" at the San Francisco International Competition.
BERINGER Winemaker Ed Sbragia named
Laurie Hook associate winemaker at the end of the 1997 harvest. She is a 12-year Beringer
veteran who trained at U.C. Davis and Ed says his first lieutenant and right hand in this
years enterprise. Laurie comments on Crush:
"CRUSH is something like
summer camp because of the bonding that happens when you work 14-hour days, seven days a
week, with the same team. Its also like an extended chess game because of the
concentration it takes to plan many moves ahead, always focusing on the end game. . . . We
do as much planning as we can, but nature rules. . . . Every afternoon about four
oclock, winemakers and vineyardists meet to decide what grapes will get picked the
next day. Our "wine growers" tend to be conservativeonce grapes get to a
point, theyre happy to get them off the vine before nature throws a curse ball.
Winemakers tend to want to push the envelope and Ed is always looking for the most intense
flavors he can get, block by block within the vineyards. We always reach agreement:
winemakers have a lot of clout! . . . We discuss the logistics of the next days
plans at the scalehouse with enologists and cellar staff. . . . Then theres checking
the previous days work for tank space, cooling systems, presses, and we talk on hand-held
radios a lot because communication is vital. . . . Checking everything is
constanttasting the grapes, measuring brix, and even crushing a sample at the
scalehouse to radio Ed, if its not right, we immediately radio the crew in that
vineyard to stop picking. . . . We treat red and white wines differently, but always
carefully and completely. For calmer moments, there are the beautiful sunsetsa
gorgeous colorful sky, and we recognize that nature offers us treasures other than the
(Quotes are winemakers notes.)
- MATANZAS CREEK 1996 Sonoma Valley Chardonnay $30; "floral notes, lemony citrus and oaken vanilla, tropical
fruits--pineapple, guava, accented with ginger spice, toasty oak, luscious fruit, buttery
rich yet crisp with strong acid backbone."
- MATANZAS CREEK 1995 Sonoma Valley Merlot $45: "cherry, cassis, cedar, dark spice, violet and mint, complex, rich,
currant, anise, exotic tea and pomegranate, toasty, vanilla, beautiful structure, great
- STERLING 1997 Napa Valley Chardonnay
$15: "golden delicious apple, ripe pear, toasted almond, textured, sweet cream,
tropical fruits, vanilla, medium-full body, seamless structure, long and expansive."
- STONE CREEK WINES has released
three modestly priced bottles, $7 each, worth trying: 1996 Special Selection California
Cabernet Sauvignon, 1996 Special Selection California Zinfandel and 1997 Special Selection
California Sauvignon Blanc.
- CHALK HILL 1995 Estate Bottle Cabernet Sauvignon $32: "a cool, dry vintage was ideal for Chalk Hills 18-year-old, low
yielding vines, giving ample hang time to produce concentrated and complex fruit. Small
portions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were incorporated in the final blend,
enriching the texture and enhancing complexity."
- CHALK HILL 1995 Estate Bottled Merlot $36: "Merlot is planted on steep hillsides in a bowl with shallow clay
soils that produce intensely concentrated wines. 1995 , one of the coolest vintages on
record at Chalk Hill, gave a long ripening season, deep colors, fleshy and expansive
palate with excellent fruit concentration. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec
were added to the blend for complexity, a broad structure and rich, lingering
- CHALK HILL 1996 Estate Bottled Chardonnay $28: "Grapes for this wine came from 30 distinct vineyard sites, each
handled separately and the wine was made on a barrel-by-barrel basis. Ample heat and low
yields of the 96 harvest brought chardonnay to full maturity by Augustall
picked in 3 ½ weeks, giving forward, concentrated wines with depth and balance."
- CHALK HILL 1996 Estate Bottled Sauvignon Blanc $19: " . . . produced from steep, rocky, and well-drained slopes, a blend
of 89% sauvignon blanc and 11% semillon, the wine profited from the warm weather, ripening
the fruit to harness the acidity for proper balance of Chalk Hills
charactertropical fruits, figs, hazelnuts and smoke."
JEKEL VINEYARDS veteran winemaker
Rick Boyer has produced two, limited, new Reserve wines:
- 1996 JEKEL Reserve "FOS"*
Chardonnay Gravelstone Estate $21: "richer and fuller than
Jekels popular mainline Gravelstone Chardonnay, this is our first effort at
full-blown Chardonnay with an unabashed use of new French oak barrelssmoky bacon,
apricot, pineapple aromas, full, rich mouth of complex fruit flavors and toasty oak spice,
serve with braised or grilled poultry, pork and veal dishes." *
(fantastically oaky stuff)
- 1996 JEKEL Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling $18/375ml: " excellent with peach and apricot desserts, rich, mouthfilling
and redolent of dried apricots, orange blossoms and honeyed pear, balanced with
PRESTON VINEYARDS & WINERY
owner Lou played catch-up information with his new releases, "I forgot to tell you
about the newest vintage of our Cuvée de Fumé, ditto Syrah and Faux, so here it
- PRESTON 1997 Cuvée de Fumé $12
continues the tradition of blending Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon to create a richly
textured fumé without the excesses of over-ripeness. Were replanting phylloxera-hit
sauvignon blanc vineyards with new sauvignon blanc because of our unshakable commitment to
the varietal. Young vines accentuate the green character so look for herbal wines in the
coming years." This wine exhibits "pineapple, pear aromas, subtle grassy notes,
hints of vanilla, elegance and refreshing acidity." Plaudits: Restaurant Wine Guide
- PRESTON 1995 Syrah $22
"reflects new directions. Theres a gravel knoll adjacent to Peña Creek that
bears our best fruit; almost all the 1995 is from that vineyard. Future vintages will 100%
from that sourceon the label. Exhibits ripe blackberries, leather, spice, full and
rich, fine tannins, fragrant berry finish." Silver medals: Beverage Tasting
Institute, San Diego Wine Competition, and Grand Harvest Awards. Optimum drinking window:
Years three to fifteen from vintage.
- PRESTON 1997 Marsanne $18:
"Marsanne is a grape of extremeslast to ripen, has biggest bunches among
whites, and is most susceptible to weather induced damage. But it makes our richest white
wine and is the most rewarding when we get it just right. Try with pan-fried trout,
whole-wheat grains or risotto. Its ripe, complex, aromatic, slightly toasty, floral
spicy notes, honey and tropical fruits evolve with bottle development." Aging
potential: Five years from bottling.
- PRESTON 1996 Faux $11: "Faux
is the name for Prestons Rhone-style red blend. Mourèdre, syrah, carignane,
cinsault and grenache are the estate-grown grapes. Its redolent of ripe fruit and
soft earth, a dollop of sunshine parting the clouds on a steely winters day. It goes
wonderfully well with French cookerysavory foods, herbs and garlic, spicy stews and
pungent cheese." Optimum drinking: Two to six years from bottling date.
- PACIFIC ECHO 1995 Blanc de Blancs
$24: "Exhibiting lush, citrus floral aromas and creamy vanilla nuances, this wine
showcases the cool-climate characteristics of Anderson Valley Chardonnay. According to
Winemaker Tex Sawyer, the 1995 vintage was similar to the 1991plenty of sun and cool
temperatures throughout the growing season. The grapes have plenty of time to develop the
complex, concentrated flavors attainable in the Anderson Valley. The wine was blended
entirely with Anderson Valley fruit and underwent 100% malolactic fermentationlike
all Pacific Echo wines. The practice is common among the finest Champagne Houses and adds
richness and complexity to the finished wines. In the case of the 1995, malolactic and the
quality fruit make it bigger and richer." www.pacific-echo.com/.
- CHARLES KRUG Peter Mondavi Family 1996 Reserve Sangiovese $16 "originates from the estate vineyard that surrounds the Charles Krug
Ranch in the heart of Napa Valley. Grafted over to the Grosso clone of Sangiovese
1991/1992, this Italian varietal is a fitting salute to the Peter Mondavi Family heritage.
The winter of this wine experienced 150% above normal rainfall. The 1996 crop yielded
highly concentrated fruit with intense flavors, balanced structure and distinctive
varietal character with rich aromas of strawberry and spice, cherry flavors, hint of
toastiness, medium bodied, balanced with a soft, elegant finish."
- CHARLES KRUG 1996 Napa Valley Merlot
$16: "brilliant ruby, lovely nose of fresh black cherry and spice, well balanced,
rich and complex, bright fruit flavors enhance an elegant finish."
NAPA RIDGE Winemaker David
Schlottman tells me he has been producing wine from North Coast fruit for two decades.
"I like using this appellation because the diversity of the fruit offers a virtual
palate of flavors from which to blend. Long-term contracts with growers ensure our sources
of premium fruit from the four microclimates."
- NAPA RIDGE 1997 North Coast Triad
$9: "For the inaugural vintage of Triad, I envisioned a multi-layered wine that
allowed components from each varietal to highlight different points on the palate.
Mendocino Chardonnay, the foundation, contributes a rich up-front fruitiness; Alexander
Valley Semillon adds layers of pear, fig and spice to the mid-palate, and Russian River
and Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc contribute citrus, herbal flavors and a clean, refreshing
quality. Triad is an excellent food pairing wine."
- NAPA RIDGE 1997 North Coast Chardonnay $9: "The growing season began early with budbreak occurring 20-30 days
before normal. A mild summer let grapes mature slowly and fully develop optimal sugar
levels resulting in fully ripened fruit and rich intense flavors that benefited from a
long hang-time. The wine has fresh aromas and flavors of citrus, green apple, and melon
and 80% barrel fermented wine adds complexity and 87% underwent malolactic to enhance
mouth-feel and flavor."
BERINGER Winemaker Ed Sbragia says
he learned to make white wine from his mentor and predecessor at Beringer, Myron
Nightingale, but he learned to make red wine from his father. "His winemaking rules
were simple: respect the fruit, keep the barrels full and go for intensity of flavor. He
punched down the wines two or three times a day and never fined or filtered and his wines
were delicious. My father liked all my wines, but my Reserve evoked é
saporito! roughly, the saying means delicious, full of flavor,
lip-smackingly rich. I like to think thats how my father would have described the
newest release of the Private Reserve."
- BERINGER 1994 Private Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet, $75: "Four Beringer estate vineyards make the distinctive character of
this wine: 47% Bancroft Ranch on Howell Mountain for forward fruit of classic cabernet,
ripe, sweet black currant (cassis); 20% Tre Colline on Howell for dense, dark cabernet
with firm tannins and a slightly earthy note, black and red berry flavors; 18% Chabot for
inky, highly structured cabernet with distinctive flavors of cassis, mint and cedar; 12%
St. Helena Home Vineyard contributes other classic cabernet flavors of berries and black
cherries layered with licorice and spiceplus 3% cabernet franc from Tre Colline for
balance, complexity and length to finish."
ARTISANS & ESTATES, an
international collection of wineries designed to showcase fruit from the worlds
finest growing regions, was established by KENDALL-JACKSON proprietor Jess Jackson in June 1995. The then-new venture featured wineries
from California, Italy and Chile and included Cambria, Stonestreet, Robert Pepi, Calina
and others. Some of them are represented below as well as Kendall-Jackson.
- KENDALL-JACKSON 1997 Vintners Reserve Chardonnay $15:
"Concentrated citrus, melon, apple, and tropical fruit aromas and flavors with
buttery, toasty oak notesa rich creamy textured, rounded and persistent flavor
impression. Ideal as an aperitif, with seafood, chicken and light, creamy pastas."
- KENDALL-JACKSON 1997 Vintners Reserve Sauvignon Blanc $11:
"Ripe melon, citrus and fig flavors, fresh herb nuances, crisp, well-balanced, hints
of vanilla in the long finish. An ideal aperitif, great match with shellfish, chicken and
- STONESTREET 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley $34:
"95 was an excellent year viticulturally in Alexander Valley. A heat spell just
before harvest ripened our Cabernet to perfection. The wine is complex with supple tannins
and cedar fragrances, well-balanced, suffused with flavors of spicy black cherry,
chocolate and coffee, rich and concentrated."
- CALINA 1997 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon $9: " . . . a blend of
reduced-crop-level fruit from select hillside vineyards in three of Chiles most
renowned red wine regions, concentrated rich fruit, robust, deep, full-bodied, luscious
fruit flavorscherry, berry, plumframed by generous toasty oak, mouth-filling
texture, smooth velvety finish."
- ROBERT PEPI 1996 California Sangiovese $18: "Four primary
vineyards of the best sangiovese, produced the ripe varietal character and spiciness:
Eaglepoint in Mendocinojuicy blackberry and lost of structure; Tepusquet in Santa
Barbarapure raspberry and cherry; Fox Creek in Amadorblack cheery, tar and
wild herb flavors, round and powerful structure with bright acidity; Pepi Estate in
Naparipe strawberry and cherry fruit of surprising power."
- MARIPOSA 1997 Chardonnay Mendoza Argentina $9: "Ripe tropical
fruit flavors are underlain by nectarine and toasty oak accents, rich body, opulent
mouthfeel balanced by bright acid."
- MARIPOSA 1997 Malbec Mendoza Argentina $9:
"Deep, dark color and concentration, full of rich plum, charged with cardamom and
black pepper spice."
WENTE VINEYARDS 1995 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($20) origins date back to the 1800s when Charles Wetmore first imported this
cabernet clone to the Livermore Valley from Margaux, France. "The 1995 has a silky
texture and wonderful aromas with layers of currant, clack cherry, tobacco, and spice
flavors. Subtle vanilla and toasty oak flavors add to the elegant structure and deliver a
soft, rich taste balanced by a lively finish with medium tannin.
- WENTE 1996 Crane Ridge Reserve Merlot ($15) comes from sloping hills on the Wente family estate. The grapes from this
block "Thrive in well-balanced soils and a micro-climate free from frosts harmful to
sensitive merlot vines. The terroir allows full ripeness, depth of currant, plum, cedar
and spice flavors, and aging in small oak barrels give the wine smooth, velvety texture
with elegant tannins."
- WENTE 1996 Reliz Creek Reserve Pinot Noir ($14) comes from the Arroyo Seco where Wente has been growing pinot noir since
the 1970s. "The cool growing season and gravelly-loam soils are perfect for this
Burgundian variety. Reliz Creek has been aged in French and American oak barrels for 10
months to enhance the smoky aromas and violet scented flavors accented by layers of spicy
oak, raspberry and solid tannins."
in AUSTIN for LUNCHEON
Merryvale was founded in 1983 with a goal to always produce world class
wines from Napa Valleys finest vineyards. Winery principals Jack Schlatter and his
son René Schlatter continue the pursuits of the founding partners. Many great Napa Valley
vineyards express their particular flavors and essences. The Schlatters intend for MERRYVALE wines to demonstrate the uniqueness of each microclimate.
The product line shows these differences: the Gold Label Selection includes Profile (a
blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc) and Silhouette (100% Chardonnay);
the Blue Label Selection includes the Reserve wines and Vignette/Meritage; the Classic Red
Label represents Napa Valley varietal wines including Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon,
"Starmont" Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
- MERRYVALE 1996 Sauvignon Blanc $18:
"notes of citrus blossom, lemon and mango with a background of sweet vanilla, mineral
and dried straw, rich palate of tropical fruit, vanilla and supple acidity."
- MERRYVALE 1996 "Starmont" Chardonnay $20: "butterscotch, caramel, toasty vanilla, lemon custard and yeast, rich,
full entry, broad round mid-palate, viscous, soft full finish."
- MERRYVALE 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon "Hillside" $20: "blueberry, cassis, spice, mint and vanilla, notes of coffee, tobacco
and cedar, soft palate entry, elegant, nicely balanced, integrated, long, supple
- MERRYVALE 1996 Reserve Merlot $30:
"concentrated plum, cassis, blackberry with spicy vanilla and clove background, full
entry with fleshy mid-palate, broad texture and concentrated spicy jammy fruit, long
- MERRYVALE 1995 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $31: "black cherry, sweet vanilla, anise, earth, blackberry, plum, cassis,
molasses, mint, soft entry, concentrated cherry, vanilla, ripe blackberry, full and rich
mid-palate of candied-like ripe fruit, soft ripe tannins on finish lingers."
- MERRYVALE 1995 Reserve Chardonnay
$30: "sweet vanilla, lemon custard, hints of tropical fruit, mineral and earth, rich
and full, toasty vanilla, butterscotch, focused with balanced acidity and fullness."
comes to Austin
The Rozès (pronounced row-sess) Port story began in 1855 when Ostende
Rozès, a fine wine broker in Bordeaux, began the sale of Ports in his native France. His
reputation for selling quality imported wines quickly built his business and established a
foundation for the future House of Rozès. Ostendes son, Edmond Rozès, actually
created the Rozès Port brand, and was largely responsible for its unique, elegant style.
The Bordeaux heritage provided the basis, and as the only French-founded Port producer,
the style differed considerably from that of the British and Portuguese houses, according
to Arnaud de Saignes, associate brand manager for Schieffelin & Somerset.
"Accessible, balanced and complex," Arnaud told me, "the
Rozès Ports are less fruity and tannic than those of the British style and richer and
rounder than those of the Portuguese. These elegant, approachable wines are compatible
with a wide array of foods and are suitable as aperitifs and after-diner drinks."
After 120 years in business, the Rozès family sold their holdings which were acquired
by Moët-Hennessy in 1977. During the last 20 years, Moët-Hennessy has built Rozès into
a quality world class producer with international distribution. Only the three finest
Rozès Ports are available in the U.S.: Aged Tawny, Late Bottled Vintage and
Vintagecalled The Classic Port.
I tasted through these lovely wines with a luncheon and comparative tasting at P.F.
Changs. It was a first for me. Ive never enjoyed a meal served exclusively
with Port wines, and I had never thought about pairing Port with Chinese foods. The
experience was enlightening as well as delicious. We sipped (mostly discarded)
judiciously, a must with these fortified wines, but I was surprised how many of the dishes
paired well with the Ports.
- Rozès 10 Years Old Tawny, $31, is
a blend of carefully selected wines that have matured in oak casks for at least ten years.
It displayed a huge vanilla nose that leapt delightfully out of the glass, showing a nice
balance between richness and elegance, with a smooth silky finish. This Port would be a
nice starter, does not need additional aging or decanting and will retain its fine
character for several weeks after opening. Serve slightly chilled, about 65 degrees. This
wine was delicious with the Sweet and Sour Chicken. Other suggested food affinities:
walnuts, cashews and almonds, mild to medium-bodied cheeses, quiche, dried fruit and
cream-based desserts. Gold MedalTasters Guild 1995; Silver Medal1998 World
- Rozès 20 Years Old Tawny, $46, is
elegant and complex with a rich nutty character. It paired well with the Double Pan Fried
Noodles (with stir-fried vegetables and chicken). Arnaud said the wine was characterized
by "round, mature fruit and silky notes of wood." It will retain its character
for several weeks after opening, serve around 68 degrees. Food affinities: blue-veined
cheeses (Stilton, Roquefort), foie gras, nuts, dried fruit, pecan and apple pie, pear tart
and crème brûlée. Silver Medal1998 World Wine Championships.
- Rozès 1992 Late Bottled Vintage,
$22, was aged in oak casks from four to six years and has a bouquet of ripe fruit and
chocolate, flavors of figs and soft spices. Because of the additional cask aging it
receives, it will not develop sediment. Drink when purchased. Food affinities: nuts and
dried fruit, Swiss Brie, Jarlsberg, Cheddar, and other mild cheeses. Gold Medal1998
International Wine & Spirit Competition; Silver Medal1997 International Wine
- Rozès 1991 Vintage, $55, was made
from grapes grown in the famed Cima Corgo region of the Douro Valley and spent two years
maturing in oak casks. It has a rich and spicy concentration of plums, vanilla, and nutmeg
and generous flavors of cherry, chocolate and coffee. The wine may be enjoyed now or
throughout a decade. Stand bottle upright 48 hours before serving and decant carefully.
Serve at 68 degrees. Food affinities: walnuts and Stilton, dried fruits, assorted nuts,
foie gras, custard tarts. Double Gold MedalTasters Guild 1995 and 1996; Medaille
dArgentChallenge International du Vin 1995.
GALLO of SONOMA Winery received
ongoing acclaim, earning several international accolades for its collection of single
vineyard, estate and county wines: "Winery of the Year" at the San Francisco
International Wine Competition; "Best Chardonnay Worldwide" at London
International Wine & Spirit Competition; gold medal winner at International Wine
Challenge and Premio Gran Vinitaly Award 1998. The San Francisco event judged over 2,500
wines from 22 U.S. states and 14 countries. Gallo Sonoma captured the most medals of the
576 wineries in the competition for 19 of its wines, reaping an unprecedented five double
gold medals as well as one gold, six silver and seven bronze medals. At the same time,
Chairman Ernest Gallo received a letter awarding the Mission Hill Trophy to his
grandnieces 1995 Estate Chardonnay for "Best Chardonnay Worldwide." This
event is the oldest annual wine and spirit competition. Earlier this year, in the spring,
Gina Gallo, her brother Matt Gallo, who oversees the winerys eight Sonoma Vineyards,
and senior winemaker Marcello Monticelli traveled to Verona, Italy, to accept the
"Premio Gran" for having won the most medals of any winery in the competition,
1,400 entries from 22 countries. GALLO of SONOMA had been the dream of the founding
brothers for more than 60 years and was officially established in 1993 when the first
wines were released. Ernest and Julio believed Sonoma Countys terrain gave it the
potential to produce world class wines and began purchasing fruit from Sonoma vineyards in
GALLO of SONOMA has released five new wines. Incidentally, Gallo of
Sonoma represents three tiers of wine: county wines, single vineyard wines (from eight
different Sonoma vineyards in four regions), and the Estate wines. The five new releases
represent three single vineyard properties: a Russian River Chardonnay, two Dry Creek
winesa Zinfandel and a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Napa Valley Chardonnay and the Estate
bottled Cabernet Sauvignon from Northern Sonoma.
- MARCELINA VINEYARDS 1996 Napa Valley Chardonnay: "Whole
cluster pressed to produce 100% free-run juice for the wine, crisp, 100% malolactic for
softness, rounded, full-bodied and creamy."
- GALLO SONOMA 1996 Laguna Ranch Russian River Chardonnay:
"concentrated citrus, apple, and pear flavors and aromas, smoky, nutty character,
soft tannins, complex."
- GALLO SONOMA 1995 Frei Ranch Zinfandel: "medium-full bodied
with plum, ripe raspberry and black cherry fruit, earth, brambles, and black pepper
- GALLO SONOMA 1994 Stefani Vineyard Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon:
"intense cassis and black cherry aromas and flavors from optimal ripening and low
yields, hand-harvest clusters were de-stemmed but not crushed to reduce bitter
- GALLO SONOMA 1994 Northern Sonoma Estate Cabernet Sauvignon:
"Gina, Matt and Marcello walked the vineyards to field taste the grapes for optimal
ripeness, harvested in the cool morning without crushing to preserve structure from skins
and minimize bitterness, rich, smooth mouthfeel, integrated complex oak flavors from three
coopers and fruit forward lusciousness."
Also among GALLOs portfolio of wines, RANCHO
ZABACO, named for the original Mexican land grant in Northern Sonoma
County, debuts two wines this fall. Russian River Valley is home to many top scoring
Chardonnays from Sonoma County. Due to cool mornings and evenings, classic Russian River
fruit expresses both crisp acidity levels and lush fruit accented by elements of apple,
pear and a touch of nutmeg.
- The RANCHO ZABACO 1996 Chardonnay, $14, benefited from extra special handling at the white wine whole cluster
press plus 100% malolactic before being aged in small French and American oak barrels.
- RANCHO ZABACO 1996 Zinfandel, $14,
comes from the "Zinfandel Zone," the name given to Dry Creek
Valleyhistoric home to some of Californias best Zin. The fruit was destemmed
but not crushed, had eight days fermentation at slightly higher temperature to extract
ripeness, aged for a year in French and American oak, left unfined and unfiltered. An
addition of 13% Petit Syrah contributes black pepper spice and a strong structure to the
wines blackberry, boysenberry, dark plum and clove flavors.
GALLOs Carmine Castorina writes of Zinfandel, "Although no
one has been able to determine how or when zinfandel grapes came to be planted in
California, theyve been around for 150 years. Its origin is also unknown. In the
late 1960s a scientist traveling in Italy found what he thought was zinfandelthe
primitivo grape; however, later research showed the grape was introduced to Italy 40
to 50 years after zinfandel had been growing in California. More recently the claim
involved the plavic mali grape of the Adriatic Coast of Croatia. Recent genetic testing,
however indicates that although zinfandel and plavlic mali are related, its unlikely
that zinfandel is a direct descendent of plavic mali. The Zabaco story embodies Sonoma
Countys rich heritage of viticulture and winemaking. In 1843, Californias
missions were taken over by the Mexican government and Mexican Army General Mariano
Vellejo was the local commander in Sonoma. He received zinfandel cuttings in the late
1850s. Dry Creek appellation has long been considered one of the best sources for prime
zinfandel. The Valley has 30 different wineries and of the 24 largest, at least 20 make
Zinfandel-its vineyards account for the largest acreage (28% of all varietals) and
35% of all Zinfandel acreage in Sonoma County. Zinfandel is a distinctive red grape that
makes wines with complex fruit characterranging among raspberry, blackberry, black
cherry, plum--enhanced by spice--mainly peppery.