Wine Reviews: Gallica

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-11-2016

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Rosemary Cakebread. Credit: Meg Smith.

When it comes to long-running Napa winemakers, Rosemary Cakebread’s resume is legit. Since 1979, she’s been immersed in the Napa wine scene, from cellar jobs at the famous Inglenook Winery, to a winemaking gig at Cabernet heavy-hitter Spottswoode, to crafting sparkling wine at Mumm — she knows her stuff.

A UC Davis grad, Rosemary started Gallica in 2007 so she could, “do what I wanted to do.” She focuses specifically on single-vineyard wines from organic sites, branching out from Napa Cabernet to include Albarino and Rhone varieties in the Sierra Foothills and Santa Lucia Highlands. Named after an ancient variety of European rose, Gallica pays homage to Rosemary’s love of aromatics in wine, which shows wonderfully in the four wines I’ve tasted.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2015 Gallica Albariño Rorick Heritage Vineyard- California, Sierra Foothills, Calaveras County
SRP: $36
Medium gold color. Aromas of honey, cantaloupe, peach nectar, along with floral perfume, honey and hints of sea spray. Medium/full-bodied with a very creamy, almost waxy mouthfeel but there’s such pleasant acidity that keeps this wine fresh. The palate gushes with peach, orange peel, apricot jam, along with honeycomb, floral perfume and glazed nuts. A more hedonistic style of Albarino, this is absolutely delicious yet it stays so fresh and vibrant. This gets a bit of skin contact and also includes a dash of Muscat Blanc. This wine comes from a 2,000-foot, steep volcanic slope called Rorick Heritage Vineyards, and the average age of these Albarino vines is 20-25 years. A treasure of a site, and what awesome fruit. This is Rosemary Cakebread’s first white wine under the Gallica label, and she said she aims for lots of texture in her white wine, so she nailed this. What I love is the way that texture aligns with such vibrant acidity for a real sense of balance. 180 cases. (90 points IJB)

2014 Gallica Grenache Red Wine Shake Ridge Ranch- California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County
SRP: $50
Vibrant ruby color. Gorgeous nose of raspberries, red currants and pomegranate, along with notes of iron, crushed rocks and spiced black tea. Full but balanced between medium tannins and crisp acidity. Bright red cherries and pomegranate mixes with darker cherry and plum, the fruit is ripe and vibrant and laced with notes of sage, tobacco, scorched earth, sweet clove, crushed rocks. I get this fascinating smoked meat and chorizo note that comes out more and more with time. Packed with flavor but so refreshing, too. A blend of 53% Syrah, 34% Grenache, 11% Mourvedre and 2% Viognier. Aged 17 months in 50% new French oak. 213 cases. From a site in Amador that sits between 1,500 and 1,700 feet in elevation. (91 points IJB)

2014 Gallica Syrah Soberanes Vineyard- California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
SRP: $60
Dark, saucy purple color. Aromas of rich black cherries, tart plums, scorched earth, charcoal, bacon fat and black olives. Plush and velvety on the palate, such intrepid balance between sturdy tannins and fresh acidity. Tart but rich fruit (black cherries, blueberries), gushing but refreshing and crunchy at the same time. The fruit is smothered in anise, grill smoke, charcoal, dark coffee, cedar, hints of vanilla. Seriously, the finish reminds me of a plate of delicious cured meat and olives, and it’s fantastic. A beauty to taste young, but this has five to eight years written all over it. Lots of complexity and elegance to unpack. 65% whole cluster fermentation, 153 cases. (93 points IJB)

2013 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Ranch Vineyards- California, Napa Valley
SRP: $160
Deep purple color. Gorgeous aromatic display of enticing black currant, dark plums and black cherries, topped in menthol, tobacco, cigar shop, graphite and complex earth notes. Full-bodied but pure and balanced. Dense, bold tannins but excellent balance from the acidity. Black cherry, blueberry, plums, saucy but full of tartness. Complex waves of cedar, pencil shavings, charcoal, iron and dusty soil cascade over the palate, and I get flavors of herbs, violets, potting soil and minerals as well. So complex, this needs lots of time in the cellar to show its best, but this is absolutely gorgeous. Includes some Cabernet Franc, this is sourced from a site in Oakville’s eastern hills, between 800 and 1,400 feet. (94 points IJB)

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