One never knows what to expect when you start to rearrange the wine cellar, especially me, because I can be rather forgetful about what is there. I saw this bottle and realized that it could possibly be an interesting article one way or the other and all I needed was the proper venue. I could think of a few individuals that could appreciate the potential, and one of them appeared. The Wine Raconteur Jr., who gave himself that moniker when he authored a couple of articles here; and he can probably outdo me, doing me. He is a very busy individual and we contacted him very early about getting a dinner arranged for the Christmas season. He opted to have dinner at his house, as he and his charming Bride are very accomplished in the kitchen, as well as anything else they decide to tackle. We figured that it would be better at their house, because they could arrange dinners for their children and also the children would play while we were there. I offered to supply the beverages, and that is a good trade off.
We arrived at the designated time, and of course we had to catch up on all the latest news. I being retired probably had the least number of new stories to relate, I don’t believe that either. While we were chatting, we also exchanged our Christmas presents, and it is always fun to try to select the right gifts for the children, but my Bride did a great job, though she needed some parental assistance for the son, the daughter she nailed. When we got down to the first bottle of wine, I had to give an introduction, and I also had a back up bottle, just in case. I have tried to keep up with my readings, but I have been doing a rather poor job about that, until I can come up with a new rhythm for getting everything done, as I thought I would have so much more time as a retiree, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. Though I mention the readings, because I have discovered several articles about older white wines and some have opined that maybe five years might be the end of the road for most whites, especially from the New World, and discounting fortified wines, famed dessert wines, old wines from the Jura and aged German wines with Pradikat. I mean we have had some older white wines that have seen better days and had oxidized and gotten “foxy.” The color had darkened, and the nose and flavor demanded that we try another bottle. Lo and behold, I discovered that some writers had suggested that perhaps older wines should be kept a little longer and then tried, as some of the wines have a second life in the bottle after ages of being undisturbed. I thought that twenty-seven years was long enough of a rest to see if there was any merit to this new bit of information that I had curried from scribes that have more knowledge and experience than I.
I was opening up a bottle of Gallo Estate Bottled Chardonnay Northern Sonoma 1992, and I remember that when I got it, I was told that it was Gina Gallo who had started to make some “serious” wines as compared to the popular price Ernest & Julio Gallo. The original Gallo Winery was founded in 1933, and the granddaughter Gina Gallo started creating the Gallo Signature Collection around the 1990’s from what I can gather and they began about forty years ago in Sonoma, so this wine could be the forerunner of the Estate Wine Series. I can only go by the recent bottlings, but the fruit is hand picked from select blocks at each estate vineyard. The grapes are pressed and transferred to French Oak barrels, of which eighty percent is new. All fermentation occurs in barrel, followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine spends from twelve to sixteen months aging in barrel, racked off of the lees and blended with the aging juice from all the different estates. The time came to try it, and after opening the bottle and pouring, I could hear my Bride getting concerned that the wine must have oxidized, because the was a deep amber leaning to the brownish tones. There was a slight musty nose at first, but it dissipated quite quickly and I took a taste. I figured, only one person would have to suffer, and I did have Plan B in place. The wine was very mellow and rather singular in that it did not have layers, but all the layers had blended into an easy drinking wine, that I was comparing to some of the old white Burgundy wines that I had the pleasure of having in my youth, say fifty years ago. There were four fine glassfuls of this wine that was enjoyed by all, and if I had to try to respond with some descriptors, I would have to say that the smooth caramel rather wrapped up the stone fruit that was left, the oakiness had gone from buttery to a silky caramel without the sweetness. I think we were all impressed.