Gallo Family Vineyards Sonoma Wines
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Gallo Family Vineyards Sonoma Wines

Though admittedly a very large company, Gallo is also a family company. The company produces, sells, and distributes wines and related products under many brand names, but it also markets several lines of wines, at a range of price points, under the relatively new Gallo Family Vineyards label. The Gallo Family Vineyards Sonoma appellation wines sell for a suggested retail price of $15.

I have previously reviewed the line's 2005 Merlot (“sophisticated bitter chocolate, concentrated black cherry jam, drying tannin grip on finish”), the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (“an affable and friendly Cabernet with a promising future as a crowd pleaser”), and the 2006 Chardonnay (“a very clean nose, with pronounced intensity, and aroma notes of fresh lime, white flowers, a light minerality, apricot jam, and fresh cream”). The more recent vintages of these same three varietals are now on my table.

The Gallo Family Vineyards 2007 Sonoma Chardonnay is 100% Chardonnay, 13.54% alcohol, the result of a smaller than usual harvest that nevertheless produced some very fine fruit. The grapes are whole cluster pressed, fermented partially in barrel and partially in stainless steel with some of the wine aged on its lees in oak for several months. The result is a clear, greenish gold in color. The nose is somewhat subtle, bringing first grapefruit citrus, then a ripe pineapple, with hints of pear and some spice. Once in contact with the mouth, the wine is mouth filling and buttery, supported by some truly lively acidity. Tree fruit—apple and pear—balance nicely with tropical notes of pineapple, kiwi and mango, with some peach mediating between the two groups. The lively acidity is there at the finale. A super value at this price, the Chardonnay shows both personality and balance.

The Gallo Family Vineyards 2006 Sonoma Merlot is 97% Merlot, filled out with Cabernet Sauvignon and a dollop of Syrah, 13.9% alcohol. The wine is very dark, yet an excellent example of a dark wine that is still transparent and bright. The nose is quite pronounced: black cherry, nutmeg, clove and vanilla. This is a decidedly dry wine that shows good ripeness and extraction, with acidity and tannins that work behind the scenes to keep it all together. The star on the palate is rich black raspberry fruit with black plum jam, touches both of blueberry and pomegranate and some nicely caramelized pastry crust stuck with gooey bits of the fruit. It all combines in a flavor delight. The finish dovetails nicely with the rest of the wine, showing tangy berry with nice acidity and some earthy smoky notes at the end. This Merlot has all the elements to please the wine connoisseur but at the same time it is so inherently yummy that it should find broad popular appeal.

The Gallo Family Vineyards 2006 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet, 13.7% alcohol, a middle dark clear purple in color with a pale rim. The nose is spicy, with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove in a mix with black cherry and cassis. The wine is dry with some tangy acidity. Palate notes are rich: concentrated cherry, cassis, a punch of black cherry, sweet blueberry, vanilla, baking spice and a hint of cocoa. This Cabernet has some persistent, slightly chunky tannins that add length to the experience, finishing round and soft, leaving the mouth to enjoy a pomegranate tang and a good deal of fruit at the end. Drinkable now with food or without, this is a very well integrated wine that brings along plenty of flavor.

Verdict: Flavor and Excellent Value

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Gallo shows the stamina to focus their family efforts behind their excellent Sonoma County lines.

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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