Interesting tasting here last Thursday evening. We tasted Gabbiano Chianti Classico, Sonoma-Cutrer Rose of Pinot Noir, Seghesio Angela's Table Zinfandel, and Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon. The Gabbiano was a no-brainer. It was the best buy on the table at $10/bottle. The other three pricier wines were competing for the best wine on the table...period.
Before we get into that though, what the three California wines share in their common history needs to be said. They all started out in private hands only to end up in the hands of mass marketers. This is reality in the California wine industry, circa 2019. That said, each has its own story. Let's take them one at a time.
Seghesio has the longest history of the three. They go back to the 1800's and around the middle of the last century they were a legitimate powerhouse in this industry. In fact for a while they owned most of the vineyard land in Sonoma County and most of the Zinfandel produced there. In 2011 they were bought by Leucadia National, a Wall Street financial giant. Leucadia owns the Napa-based Crimson Wine Group (Pine Ridge, Chamisol, Archery Summit) so they weren't just looking for return on investment. The Zinfandel at our tasting was very tasty indeed.
Black Stallion has the shortest history of the three. A couple Minnesotans bought the thirty-eight acre Napa estate at the turn of this century and sold it to DFV (Delicato Family Vineyards) ten years later. The only tangible asset aside from the land, itself, was the hospitality center since the business had no vineyards or winery of its own. DFV is also a family run business but they are a powerhouse. They are a perennial Top 10 wine company worldwide. This vintage of the Cabernet at our tasting was a little thin, which reflects the mass marketers' intention to not offend anyone.
Sonoma-Cutrer was established in 1973 with the intention of specializing in Chardonnay. Their timing couldn't have been better. Chardonnay was about to begin its reign as the king of white wines and Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnays were some of the best. In 1999 the beverage giant Brown-Forman (Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, Canadian Mist) bought the operation with the stated purpose of maintaining the estate as a separate entity from its existing wine portfolio (Fetzer, Bonterra, Jekel, Mariah.) Two years later that pledge was abandoned and their labels now share facilities and winemakers with the other brands.
The Rose of Pinot Noir from Sonoma-Cutrer is a recent addition to their line and it is wonderful, It is very light and dry and charming and refreshing, all of the qualities everyone wants in rose. So, since we have already written off the Black Stallion Cabernet, which was the winner between the Seghesio Zinfandel and the Rose?
That's up to you.
Please join us this Thursday at 5pm for a store tasting with Bob Reynolds who has a portfolio specializing in Spanish and Oregonian wines.