Richmond and Teddington Wine Societies welcomed Robbie Rugman – the Fine Wine ambassador for Gallo Family Winery this week with the clear aim of broadening our taste horizons and showing a very different, high quality side to the extraordinary and famous wine company.
While many people are familiar with Barefoot, Turning Leaf and Gallo Family Vineyard brands, the fine wine range is somewhat less known.
Robbie kicked off with an excellent view of the scale of Gallo, who produce more wine than Australia, own their own sand mine and glass bottle production site, recycle about 40% of all Californian glass, account for 60% of all Californian wine….the numbers seriously stack up.
The Fine Wine division has been slowly building momentum over the past twenty years with some carefully executed acquisitions, starting with the Fred MacMurray Ranch – Fred starred with Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, directed by Billy Wilder in 1944, and a number of Disney films, and put the money he made in the movies into his ranch in the Russian River where he raised Aberdeen Angus cattle. After his death it was sold to Gallo who wanted to produce wine from this famous area. The Pinot Gris was spicy and elegant with oodles of ripe fruit yet clean acidity, and the two Pinot Noirs were great examples of how this grape adapts to its terroir (Russian River and a different MacMurray estate from the Central Coast).
We tasted two Chardonnays contrasting Washington State (Columbia Winery) and Sonoma (Frei Brothers); and the Louis M Martini Cabernets showed the subtle differences between Sonoma and Napa. The final two wines from Orin Swift were off the wall to say the least. Big fruit blockbusters, the Abstract was a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Petite Sirah, while the Papillon was a rich Bordeaux blend.
Despite the relatively high alcohol across all the wines there was a lot of balance and immense character in everything we tasted.
Three great nights with the Fine Wines of Gallo, and an opportunity to drink some exemplary but affordable wine from a place that is normally stratospherically expensive – some fabulous food for thought!
All Gallo’s fine wines are supplied by Great Western Wines – see the ones we drank on the Wines we have tasted page.