Gallo Family Vineyards, Sonoma Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
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Gallo Family Vineyards, Sonoma Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Tasting Notes

As one of the top family companies in the world of wine, or of any variety in fact, Gallo, though a large enterprise indeed, has always stressed its familial nature. The company's brand restructuring, coming into full effect in 2007 and 2008, will consolidate a wide variety of wines, all formerly “Gallo-something,” under the “Gallo Family” description.

The $15 Gallo Family Sonoma Reserve (which replaces the former “Gallo of Sonoma”) lies at the middle tier in the new value spectrum. The wine is nicely dry and at 13.31% lower in alcohol than many of the Cabernets coming out of California today. The composition of the wine itself shows wise restraint in two other major respects: it uses a good range of oak and yet is not over-oaked, and it marshals the typical Cabernet punch without letting the grape run the whole show. “Burnished” is the adjective that comes first to mind. This is accessible wine.

The nose is very nicely integrated. Sweet oak is the first impression, with strawberry and black cherry, both very ripe, providing the fruit. The spice of vanilla backs this up, but floral notes also chime in: violet and rose. The overall impression is one of warmth and aromatic depth.

The Cabernet is dry with some nicely focused acidity and soft tannins. The fruit is more forward in the mouth than it is on the nose (with less of a floral element), leading with cherry and red plum jam, some concentrated cranberry, more of the oak's vanilla, and a touch of sweet cream.

Though the Cabernet element here is not pushy, it is nevertheless energetic, and you have no doubt what you have been drinking when it comes to the lingering finish. You taste some fruity pucker at the end. I enjoyed this food friendly wine with a pan-seared rib-eye steak, smothered in sautéed shallots. It is the kind of wine you can open and drink today. The 45-minute aeration in a decanter was more than enough to open the wine up to the “drink me” stage. Bottom line: this well-made wine is an affable and friendly Cabernet with a promising future as a crowd pleaser.


Verdict: Well balanced
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It is difficult to over-stress the appeal of balance in a wine.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

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