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Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1997 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Gallo Does Napa

It had to happen. Moving as it has from its Central Valley haunts into separate labels for Sonoma, North Coast and Monterey wines, it was only a matter of time before the Gallos put a high-end Napa wine on the nation's dinner tables.
Indent Over the past couple of nights, I've tasted pre-release samples of "Marcelina Vineyards" Napa Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon -- a Gallo product due for national introduction next month -- and I have to say that I find them persuasive. As you'd expect from the Gallo Sonoma line, these are technically correct without being in any way idiosyncratic; well-made, middle-of-the-road wines that should be able to stand up to the regional competion at their price point. (The street price should be a few bucks less than Gallo's intentionally overstated suggested retail.)

Marcelina Vineyards 1993 Napa County Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.99 suggested retail)
Clear but very dark garnet in color, this wine breathes good black fruit and oaky vanillins, with a herbal touch of dill. It's full and ripe on the palate, good black fruit structured on bright lemon-squirt acidity and firm tannins. Well balanced, youthful Cabernet, with real structure and even, dare I say it, elegance. (Spec sheets indicate that it's cool fermented, goes through 100 percent malolactic fermentation in "European" oak, then goes through 22 months of aging in a blend of American, French and Hungarian oak, "a portion of which" were new, heavy toast. (Aug. 21, 1997)

Marcelina Vineyards 1995 Napa Valley Chardonnay ($17.99 suggested retail)
Clear straw color. Pleasant toasty oak aromas with full, fresh scents of pineapple and pears. Full, creamy fruit flavor, oak present but not overwhelming; full of fruit but seems fully dry, without the "threshold" sweetness that makes so many California Chards cloying. (According to the specs, it sees barrel fermentation in French oak, goes through full malolactic fermentation, and spends 10 months "sur lies" in French oak. The label claims a stunning 14.6% alcohol.) (Aug. 21, 1997)

All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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