© 1999 JDM Enterprises
MENDOCINO BARGAINby Jerry D. Mead
If asked you to name the largest wine company in the U.S., you shouldn't have any trouble naming the folks at Ernest & Julio Gallo and their many brands. They also happen to be number one in the world.
But how would you fare if asked to name the second largest wine company in the U.S.? Well, if you're thinking of any company based in California, you're wrong.
America's number two is the Canandaigua Wine Co., of the town of the same name in upstate New York. Never heard of them? Quite possibly not, unless you're a New Yorker, and then still maybe not.
But you're probably familiar with some of its many brands, including Manischewitz, Great Western, Taylor of New York, the notorious MD 20-20, Gold Seal and several other Eastern brands.
Coming out West the roster seems endless. Canandaigua owns: Cook's, Paul Masson, Taylor California Cellars, Deer Valley, Cribari, Inglenook, Almaden, Le Domaine, Jacques Bonet, Italian Swiss Colony, Via Firenze and Mystic Cliffs.
They also import and market Mateus from Portugal, Santa Carolina from Chile, Marcus James from Brazil and Argentina and a number of other foreign brands.
And they just made a move on the super-premium market in recent weeks with the purchase of Simi, Mt. Veeder, Estancia and Franciscan Oakville Estates.
One other brand in the Canandaigua portfolio is a winery in Ukiah, Mendocino County, that dates back to 1946 when it was a bulk winery for the Mendocino County Co-op. It was then purchased by the now defunct Guild Wineries, eventually being converted to the facility for its flagship brand, Cresta Blanca, which had started life in Livermore Valley decades before.
Before Guild sold out to Canandaigua in 1991, it started producing a label called Dunnewood, which has been continued by the current owners and recently upgraded.
Having read through a business story and a history lesson, earns you the right to read the following Dunnewood tasting notes:
Dunnewood 1997 "North Coast" Sauvignon Blanc ($7) Pleasantly herbaceous notes on a grapefruit citrus base. Modestly oaked; dry finish; dandy food companion. Rating: 85/92
Dry Silk 1997 "Carneros Reserve" Chardonnay ($12) The label still says Dunnewood somewhere in small type, but "Dry Silk" is like the upscale Dunnewood. I don't understand why they don't just make Dry Silk the brand. This is a barrel-fermented style with pleasant toasty aromatics and flavor complexities on a base of ripe apple fruit. It's dry, but there's an implication of sweetness from the oak extraction. Rating: 88/85
Dunnewood 1996 "North Coast" Cabernet Sauvignon ($8) Blackberry and cassis; some definite wood influence; very complex for the price point. Enough tannin to cut through rich food flavors, but not so much as to be offensively astringent. Rating: 87/92
Dry Silk 1996 "Napa Valley" Cabernet Sauvignon ($12) What a steal! The name here should not be "silk" but "velvet." Black cherry, cassis, with some earthy-smoky complexities in the after-flavors. Case purchases highly recommended. Rating: 90/96
Wines are scored using a unique 100 point system. First number rates
quality; second number rates value. |
© 1999 JDM Enterprises.
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