Head Hunters.......... - Printable Version

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- Bucko - 03-05-1999 09:09 PM

I used to be called one myself, but I guess it is a natural evolution of the wine collecting/consuming enophile. Seek out those trophies to out-do your buddy who is doing the same thing - a game of one-upmanship. Meanwhile a lot of nice wines in the $15-20 range languish on the shelves, which brings me to the topic at hand, Gallo Sonoma wines.

I was invited to a Gallo Wine Tasting Dinner at the Palisade in Seattle, and to sit at Gina Gallo's table. Gina is a very lovely young lady who appears enthusiastic about her winemaking in Sonoma. She is also a very gracious woman, fielding my pointed questions without resorting to physical abuse. ;-)

I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of the wines, having grown up in an era when Gallo meant Thunderbird, 7-Up and the beach, along with winos laying in the alley with a bottle of Night Train.

The appetizer was a Maine lobster bisque with corn fritter, served with 1996 Gallo Sonoma Chardonnay, Laguna Ranch. This is a nice wine, with good apple fruit and acidity, and just a touch more oak than I like in a wine.

The starter was a rotisserie beef tenderloin carpaccio with roasted red pepper aioli. This was served with the 1995 Gallo Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County. Full of red fruit, good balance, not overoaked, ready to drink now or over the next few years.

The entree was lamb rack chops with mushroom-barley risotto and roasted garlic-rosemary demi glace. Two wines were served with the main course: 1995 Gallo Sonoma Zinfandel, Frei Ranch - nice jammy fruit, good balance, and a little more oak than I like, but tolerable. 1994 Gallo
Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, Stefani Vineyard - Nice berry fruit, black cherries, again, with good balance and modest oak.

Dessert was a dark chocolate mousse torte with raspberries and chocolate truffles served with the 1994 Gallo Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, Barrelli Creek - Black cherries, a hint of herbaceousness, long aftertaste, slighty coarse tannins.

Every one of these wines were ready to drink, food friendly, and well-made wines that should earn 85-88 points for the numbers people. None sold for more than $18. This puts it in the bargain category for me. I just wish they would tone down the oak a tad bit, but then that is what the majority of the public wants, unlike us wine geeks. Give these wines a try - you'll be surprised.


- n144mann - 03-05-1999 10:19 PM

Well for those of you who don't know,I am new to this wine stuff, (just had to add the disclaimer [img][/img] )but I tasted several of these at a tasting last weekend. I thought the wines were okay. IMHO, an everyday wine. I have the Laguna Ranch Chard in my cellar right now. Too much oak for my hubbie, but I don't mind it as much. I didn't get to taste all the different cabs, but what I did taste could not beat what you can get from Chile for the same or less money.

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 03-05-99).]

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 03-05-99).]

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 03-05-99).]

- Bucko - 03-06-1999 02:05 AM

Do you like the edit button, Nancy? ;-) I agree with what you say and that is what I tried to convey - these are decent food wines at decent prices, but a bit too oaky for me except the Cabs.


- Jerry D Mead - 03-06-1999 04:48 AM

If God intended Chardonnay to taste like grapes He would not have invented oak trees. Count me as a big fan of the Laguna Chardonnay, though I have not had the latest release.


[This message has been edited by Wine Curmudgeon (edited 03-06-99).]

- n144mann - 03-06-1999 10:01 AM

Well the keyboard and I were not getting along so well last night,( must have been the crummy syrah I had at dinner) and if I notice an error, just can't leave it alone [img][/img] I am a perfectionist, what can I say.
I was waiting for that commment WC, and you didn't let me down. [img][/img]
later boys

- Thomas - 03-06-1999 11:37 AM

I remember the days when I often would stick a ringer Gallo Hearty Burgundy into blind Cabernet tastings; the results were always surprising to those who waxed overjoyously over the Gallo product.

I am with Bucko. It seems the Gallo winemakers take their cue, mistakenly in my opinion, from those many over-oaked Gold Medalers. But they are making products completely different from the stuff I imbibed in the sixties -- Bucko must be an old man too.

- Bucko - 03-06-1999 04:38 PM

Hey, Thunderbird and &-Up, the lake, a blanket......ahem...... ;-)


- Jerry D Mead - 03-06-1999 05:39 PM

What's the word? Thunderbird!
What's the price? Forty twice!

I went to the store when they opened up the door and said, "Please, please, please give me some more...white port and lemon tastes so good to me."

Chorus: W...P...L...J, it tastes so good to me.

Been there, done that.

Nostalgic Curmudgeon

- misterjive - 03-08-1999 12:24 PM

As a member of that most contemptible class (waitstaff), I have heard the magic words, "Yeah, got any thunderbird?," (accompanied by loud guffawing) too many times to count.

On a slightly more relevant note, I sold a bottle of 1995 Gallo of Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon to a table last night with the promise that it was good stuff for the $20 spent in a restaurant. The table consisted of a few genial older couples, and they had already shown their wine mettle by ordering, at my suggestion, a Dry Creek Valley "Fume" Blanc. Now they were looking for a good red, and I guessed they wouldn't spend much more than $30. The somewhat overpriced Gallo of Sonoma, then, was presented ironically, with an appeal to value.

The taste I had reminded me how much I like the heady bouquet and thick jammy fruit of this extremely inexpensive wine. Boysenberries. A bit of plum.

I will continue to recommend this wine. Have not had the G. of S. Merlot, which is REALLY
cheap at my (oxymoronic) neighborhood chain supermarket.

If God had wanted Chardonnay to be ever-oaky, HE would not have invented Silvio Jermann. We used to sell his Vintage Tunina at the restaurant, and it was sublime....

- Thomas - 03-08-1999 03:12 PM

Tell me folks, what dish goes well with oak?

Sorry, WC you must be older. In my time it was:

What's the word?
What's the price?

Of course that was in Brooklyn, where everything comes at a higher price.

- Thomas - 03-08-1999 03:14 PM

For some reason I misread your ditty, WC. On second look, I realize I must be older.

- vinconsult - 03-11-1999 12:27 PM

I have had the chance to taste both the regular Gallo/Sonoma and the single-vineyard offerings of the Cabs, Chards, and Zins and I think Gina & Co are doing a great job. I also agree that are a bit heavy handed on the oak for my tastes, but they are making well-made wines at fair prices; with a bit more finesse ie, let the fruit shine through a bit more, they'll be making some fine wine. They have a daunting task: turn around a big ship, and

get the public to shed its perception of Gallo as the jug wine name...I think they're

doing pretty well allthings considered...By the way. Foodie tells the truth about using a

bottle of Gallo Hearty Burgundy as a ringer, and I've had the same experience: people just couldn't believe that wine they liked so much

was that wine. I don't believe in always tasting blind, but all of us taste with our eyes (and our preconceptions) as muchas with our nose and mouth. I have attended and run too many wine events to profess otherwise.

- Thomas - 03-11-1999 02:02 PM

In my always less than humble opinion, I believe Gallo should have come up with another label for its premium wines. It would have by-passed the image problem. I suppose tying one's personal to one's business is not only the fault of the small egocentric but of the great and mighty as well.

- vitis - 03-13-1999 10:28 AM

I too tasted the new Sonoma series wines, and concur as to their value especially where zin. is concerned. Foodie in case you don't know already, Gallo has been selling "quality", or should I say varietaly labeled wines under different labels for the last couple of years. Take for instance Anapamu, Indigo Hills, and Turning Leaf. The "new Gallo", figure-headed by Gina, seems intent on confronting the quality issue head on. When one sees the reconfiguring of the mountainsides of Northern Sonoma, and the massive marketing behind this project, it certainly reeks of the old Gallo. The roll-out here in Connecticut was certainly impressive, as large stacks litter most retail store floors. I will watch with interest as to it's ability to sell through.

- n144mann - 03-13-1999 11:44 AM

Never tried Thunderbird and 7-up. In my day it was Bacardi and Coke, or a awful thing called a Slow Comfortable Screw. (OJ,S Gin,Vodka, and of course Southern Comfort) Only wines I remember drinking with any regularity were Blue Nun and Black Tower. Didn't grow up in wine drinking area. Back to the issue, We are seeing large displays here too, in MN, and at the tasting the Gallo rep was ready to tell any one who would listen about all the changes in the wine making and the wineries themselves. Will be interesting to watch the progress.
Asked the retailer how it had been selling, said they were pleased at how receptive people had been. Seems it is moving quite well here.

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 03-13-99).]