Gallo spokesman Carmen Castorina, an old friend who has been keeping me up on developments at Gallo and its Sonoma properties for many years, arranged a quick but pleasant tasting of recent and coming Gallo Sonoma releases at the Seaport Hotel (adjacent to the Boston World Trade Center where the Expo was held).
It was a pleasure to meet Ms. Gallo, and it doesn't take more than a few minutes with her to discover that she is no mere "show" wine maker but a serious and knowledgeable individual who cares about her company's wines and reveres the memory of her late grandfather Julio Gallo, and seeks to honor his memory by making the best wines she can.
Here's a quick look at the wines we tasted. (During our discussion, by the way, Gina mentioned that the company's somewhat confusing array of names for its estate-produced Sonoma products will be simplified soon, with new "trade dress" and labeling most likely using the "Gallo of Sonoma" trademark.
Rancho Zabaco 1999 Sonoma Coast Pinot Gris - Floral aromatics, very full and crisp.
Gallo Sonoma 1998 Russian River Valley Chardonnay - Clear pale gold. Toasty, rich and full, oaky but balanced.
Gallo Sonoma 1999 Barelli Creek Barbera - Dark garnet. Fruity, bright, juicy fruit, almost Beaujolais-style. Full red fruit and white pepper.
Rancho Zabaco 1999 Chiotti Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel - shy but pleasant berry fruit, restrained but elegant. Almost a claret style, although too big at 15.6 percent.
Rancho Zabaco 1998 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel - Hey! This is a Rhone. No, it's a Zin allright but with nice, leather and even meat.
Gallo Sonoma 1997 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel - Berries and a hint of leather. Gina finds whipping cream, and who's to say she's not right?
Have you tasted these wines?