While Ernest and Julio are now gone, the Gallo empire has expanded even more by purchasing wineries all over California (and the world) and has taken a quantum leap in quality while still maintaining very reasonable prices. Today, Gallo is the largest winery in the world.
Spearheading the Gallo portfolio of wines is a third generation of the family, Gina (winemaker) and Matt (her brother and grape grower). Today, they are responsible for producing Gallo's line of premium wines, most of which are available statewide.
I recently tasted three of the Gallo Signature Series wines from the premium appellations of Napa Valley, Sonoma's Russian River Valley and Monterey County's Santa Lucia Highlands. Here are some tasting notes for the wines.
2010 Gallo Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($40). This round, rich and robust red has just a touch petit verdot and is a blend of grapes from three different vineyards in Napa. A nose of teaberry and mocha with just a hint of vanilla is followed by flavors of black raspberries, cola and chocolate. Pair this wine with a pan-seared and oven-roasted double cut pork chop that has been rubbed with sea salt, green peppercorns and rosemary and stuffed with herbed goat cheese.
2011 Gallo Russian River Chardonnay ($29). Two thousand eleven was a cold and rainy year, but this wine is none the worse for it and, in fact, displays Burgundylike balance. Crisp pear and citrus highlight the taste components that are rounded out nicely by soft oak notes. Excellent balancing acidity make this a tasty accompaniment to sautéed Chilean sea bass seasoned with ground fennel, a touch of garlic and lemon.
2011 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($35). Earthy and ripe black cherry flavors highlight this spicy pinot noir from vineyards in the mountains overlooking the Pacific in Monterey. Nicely integrated oak gives the wine a floral nuance on the nose and complements this earth- and fruit-driven pinot. Try it with grilled king salmon that has been dusted with cumin, brown sugar and chili powder.
For more on the art and craft of wine, visit John Brown's Vines & Vittles blog at thegazz.com.