Tag Archives: Gallo wine

Robert Parker 97 pt Rated – Louis M Martini Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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IMG_3252Closing in on 4 years later I finally took Michael Martini’s whispered advice and sampled “the Alexander Valley”. Yes, albeit a different vintage, but yet once again a wine renowned for its quality. With many recent 90pt plus ratings, Louis M Martini wines, from Sonoma to Napa Valley, have been flying off the shelves at our Whole Foods Market. For my 2013 background story click here.  I wonder what  Michael Martini The Wine Whisperer would have to say about his 2014 vintages….

My notes:

Dark ruby-red in color. Luscious and rich fruit on the nose upon decanting with notes of; spice, resinous woods, smoky cedar, leather and a earthy/dusty quality. On the palate; deliciously red and dark fruit forward with strawberry, black currant and blackberry noted.

I have to agree with Robert Parker’s comment: “This is a beauty”.  If this Alexander Valley beauty is available to you, it is well worth the just under $30 price tag. As per The Wine Advocate review will it age well for 20 years? Probably so. But why wait. Don’t think twice. It will not disappoint.   ¡SALUD!

Winemaker notes:

The 2014 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has received high critical praise for its decadent black cherry, black current and blackberry aromas and flavors that weave together with earthy notes of truffle, tobacco and smoky cedar. This expansive wine is dense, rich and well-structured, held together beautifully by assertive tannins that lead into a long, full finish. Its depth and structure give the wine potential to easily age a decade or more.

The Wine Advocate/Robert Parker 97pts.“The bigger, richer 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley is 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petite Sirah aged 16 months in 50% new French and American casks. This is a bigger wine and close to 2% higher in alcohol at 15.5%. There are 11,000 cases of this big, full-bodied, boisterous Cabernet Sauvignon that has a dense ruby/purple color, notes of underbrush, forest floor, tobacco leaf and oodles of blackcurrants and black cherries, with a touch of woodsmoke. The full-bodied wine hits the palate with a cascade of glycerin, fruit and purity. This is a beauty – dense, rich, and structured, but capable of lasting 20 or more years.”

 

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Napa Valley – 2009 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon

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Napa Valley – 2009 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon

I first discovered the wines of Louis M. Martini on the job as a Wine Steward. I didn’t taste them but was often told by customers of their merits. We carried the Sonoma and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, both sold well.  In my mind a side by side tasting and review for Whine and Cheers would be in my near future.  So much so that when I had the opportunity to buy the more expensive Napa Cab at a crazy sale price I jumped at the opportunity. Well, I may have jumped but basically I assigned the task to my parents who lived near this wine source across town.  Luckily for me they did as they were told. This is how I came across a few bottles of both Napa and Sonoma Cabs. How lucky am I?  I put them in my cellar [for those counting; yes still the guest room] about a year and a half ago.

Interestingly when I was hired earlier this year as a Specialty Beverage Buyer for Whole Foods Market I came to find out that not only would we be featuring the Louis Martini Cab’s at our Grand Opening but that……drum-roll ….. Michael Martini the third generation winemaker and grandson of Louis M. Martini would be in attendance signing bottles.

Bio:

Growing up in his father’s and grandfather’s vineyards, Michael Martini got a hands-on education in the art of crafting world-class wines. His formal study of viticulture began in the world-renowned wine-making program at the University of California, Davis. After graduation, Mike worked alongside his father, Louis P. Martini, before taking the reins as winemaker of Louis M. Martini Winery in 1977. Mike shares his grandfather’s passion for the Napa Valley region and is a past president of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, an organization that his grandfather Louis M. Martini helped establish in 1943.

Quite the character Michael [Mike] Martini was a hit at the North Miami store.  Our customers lined up to meet this tall gregarious and quite humorous gent as he entertained all with wine war stories. Thinking back I love that he was bluntly honest about his wines, present and past vintages whether good or bad. He did not hold back.

During this main event and other tastings that followed I was able to compare both wines side by side. Not enough to write about them extensively but definitely enough to know which one I preferred.  So this week finally after cellaring 1-2 years and realizing the 2009 vintage is practically no longer available I popped the cork on the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.

My tasting notes:

On the nose; dried dark fruit [blackberry, figs, prune, black currant], wood [oak], cigar box [cedar], tobacco, spicy [black pepper, vanilla]. With the addition of black cherry on the palate.  Aromas of cedar and grape really coming out at the 2 hour mark.

2013 marks the 80th Anniversary of the Louis M. Martini Winery which was established in 1933. In 1936 the winery became one of the first to use temperature-controlled fermentation. In 1943 Louis helps set up the Napa Valley Vintner Association. 1951; Louis P. Martini, 2nd generation winemaker is among first winegrowers to use wind machines to battle frost in the vineyards. 1968; Louis M. Martini Winery is among the first to bottle Merlot as a varietal wine in California.  In 1977 Michael Martini takes the helm. In 2002 the Gallo family, close friends of the Martini family for three generations, purchased the winery and vineyards.

I didn’t officially ever get to my vertical tasting, not yet anyway. But I must admit that the Louis M. Martini 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon bowls me over every time. It is intense, beautifully balanced and has a silky finish.  I am now longing to try their Monte Rosso or better yet take Mikes’ advice which he whispered to me as he was leaving: “Wait until you try the Alexander Valley!”

¡SALUD!

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

“A nice Cabernet, on par with the winery’s equally fine 2008. Shows plenty of class, with rich blackberry, currant and cedar flavors. Earns points for sheer elegance. Ready to drink now.  Editors’ Choice

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

The Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from vineyards up and down the Napa Valley. This wine exhibits a deep burgundy color with intense aromas of cassis, sweet herbs and hints of pipe tobacco. Intriguing flavors of ripe black cherries, deep, briary red fruits, and old world complexities linger throughout the finish. This is a well structured and balanced wine that is medium-to-full-bodied and is ready to enjoy now or can be aged up to 5 years.

Winemaker’s Notes

The Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from vineyards up and down the Napa Valley. This wine exhibits a deep burgundy color with intense aromas of cassis, sweet herbs and hints of pipe tobacco. Intriguing flavors of ripe black cherries, deep, briary red fruits, and old world complexities linger throughout the finish. This is a well structured and balanced wine that is medium-to-full-bodied and is ready to enjoy now or can be aged up to 5 years.

 

APOTHIC RED – 2010 Winemakers Blend

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2010 Winemakers Blend

It’s taken me awhile but I finally broke down and tried this very popular wine. Similar to my experience with Cupcake which I recently wrote about; I must have an aversion to well marketed, popular and affordable vino.

Priced in the $8.00-$12.00 range it is usually available somewhere on sale.  In our store it always moves no matter the price. Its fans appreciate this wine whether on sale or not but of course we tend to sellout at the lower price points.  We easily go through 1-2 cases a week without highlighting it on an end-cap. Stock it, they will come 🙂

I would compare the APOTHIC to similar products from CUPCAKE [Red Velvet] and MENAGE A TROIS [Red Blend].  All with similar price points and marketed at the same audience if you ask me.  The audience [?]: first time wine drinkers, women, appreciators of sweet [but not too sweet] red wine, and older people to give some examples.  In my experience if I had to narrow it down to two of these I would say; new to wine drinkers along with the older population [including my parents] tend to love it.  Just imagine an older woman just beginning to try wine and I would say BINGO if asked for advice by a customer.

But admittedly that is narrowing the scope of its marketing and success. I have plenty of younger customers who have tried this wine and come back for more, male and female, excited that they found an affordable wine they and their partners can share.  For me the obvious common denominator is the sugar level or sweetness of these wines. It makes the drinking experience a lot more palpable to many.

As I decanted or poured from the bottle in this case,  I immediately noticed an earthiness on the nose that made me think there was ZIN! in there which of course there was. As a fan I was just glad to detect it so quickly.  The Zinfandel descriptors pretty much stop there though.  Also detected on the nose was a caramel [sweet] undertone.  Upon tasting,  the caramel really exploded along with vanilla and other spices.  I also noted grape sour pop as in the lollipop. I kept almost recognizing a flavor and yet it continuously escaped me. This went on for a while, as my drinking partner kept saying how much they were enjoying this wine, until I finally blurted out ROOT BEER! and they simultaneously said SASSAFRAS!!  The more likely culprit would probably be Cream Soda thanks to the aforementioned vanilla/caramel flavors.

Would I buy this wine regularly? Probably not. But once again I now understand its popularity and can easily recommend it to others who I know will not only appreciate it but make it their “go to” choice on a regular basis. ¡SALUD!

From the winemaker:

Inspired by “Apotheca,” a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th century Europe, the wines of Apothic are truly unique in style and taste.

Our winemaker Boyd Morrison crafts bold, captivating Apothic blends by using only the most distinctive California grapes. From vintage to vintage, Boyd lets the character and flavor of the individual varietals guide the shape of each blend.

to create Apothic Red using the most distinctive grapes from California’s renowned vineyards: Zinfandel for its spicy nature, Syrah for its dark fruit flavors, bold Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for a smooth finish.

Winemaker tasting notes;

The brambly spice of Zinfandel, dark fruit flavors of Syrah, the bold notes of Cabernet Sauvignon and the smooth elegance of Merlot unite to create this captivating red blend.

Apothic Red reveals intense fruit aromas and flavors of rhubarb and black cherry, complemented by hints of mocha, chocolate, brown spice and vanilla. The plush, velvety mouthfeel and the smooth finish round out this intriguing, full-bodied red blend.

13.1% Alcohol

Winking Owl Vineyards Shiraz – $2.99!!!

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Sunset on Devils Ridge

Winking Owl Vineyards Shiraz – $2.99!!!

It is 62 degrees on the deck as I watch the sun set behind Hogback and Melrose mountain tonight. In the background a local college radio station is playing and birds are serenading me.  Hard to believe it was 33 degrees this morning,  70 degrees at noon, we’ve almost had a summer day today.  Now my favorite mountain getaway tradition: happy hour!  Not quite so happy when you are alone.  I would rather be here with my better half, but after a day of vacation home projects this is quite the nice reward to myself, even if it includes wine I found today for only $2.99!!!

I discovered this wine today at a local branch of an ALDI grocery store. This low-end or I should probably describe it as low price retailer from Germany is expanding throughout the U.S. Some compare it to Trader Joe’s because they sell their own brand name products or product names you would not recognize. Like their european counterpart grocery stores there is a 25 cent [refundable] fee to rent carts and you are expected to bring your own bags for the merchandise you buy or pay for the plastic/paper bags needed at checkout.  It is a concept I wish we had closer to home.

Upon opening and decanting the first aroma to hit me was vinegar, not a good sign :).  Like magic and within seconds I started to detect mild notes of leather and oak opening to fruit: raspberry and strawberry.  This austere wine accompanied my garlic ziti dinner for one and I must say I rather enjoyed it at the time. Unfortunately I must report that soon afterwards I developed sinus congestion that drove me batty for hours and even worse a harsh headache overnight.  Both conditions not ones I usually suffer from when drinking wine. May just be a coincidence and I must admit I would give it another chance mostly because of the price but………

Internet research although not verified points to the fact that this California wine is produced by E&J Gallo for Aldi grocery stores.  This producer is obviously well-known and has been around for decades.  That said, they can be a high quantity low price producer with that as one of their niche markets. I love my deals and finding great value wines but unfortunately after having another similarly produced wine last year,  I am starting to detect a low priced pattern.  Note to self; I am not becoming a wine snob, I am not becoming a wine snob…….

SALUD!