© Copyright 1999 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
To that end, the wine making giant has acquired substantial vineyard property and established wine-making facilities in Northern California's Sonoma County, and in recent years it has startled sometimes skeptical wine lovers with surprisingly fine varietals made in limited quantity and sold under the Gallo Sonoma label.
In the latest chapter of this saga, Gallo now moves from test marketing into national U.S. distribution with a range of modestly priced Gallo of Sonoma wines, packaged with a bright, simple label that appears aimed at a mass-market audience, but of a quality sufficient to satisfy just about anyone seeking an affordable table wine.
Gallo of Sonoma 1996 Sonoma County Merlot ($9.99)
FOOD MATCH: Its supple fruitiness makes this one a fine match with a fat free-range roasting hen.
In addition to the above, purchased at retail and rated at home, I also had the pleasure of tasting through the entire Gallo of Sonoma line with the firm's director of communications, Carmen J. Castorina, earlier in the month. Carmen brought along packets of publicity materials describing the role of Julio Gallo's grandchildren Gina as wine maker and Matt as vine grower for the new line.
After test-marketing in fewer than a dozen states (the U.S. West Coast, mostly, plus Kentucky), the Gallo of Sonoma label went nationwide this month, with all its wines bearing a $12 "manufacturer's suggested retail" price but actually expected to sell for just under $10 in most markets. Castorina said the line isn't immediately expected to be available for export, although other Gallo products are sold around the world.
Here's a quick rundown of the other varietals in the new line:
Gallo of Sonoma 1997 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Gallo of Sonoma 1997 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Gallo of Sonoma 1996 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Gallo of Sonoma 1995 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
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