Saturday, November 17, 2007
Louis M. Martini Keeps Red Flowing
When Louis M. Martini in St. Helena was acquired by E. & J. Gallo in 2002 there were questions about what would change at the vintner. One of the biggest changes is that more people can now find Martini wines at retail thanks to the power of Gallo's distribution arm.
We made a stop at the winery during our recent visit to the Napa Valley and while waiting Michael Martini, who was running late from another appointment, we sampled a range of wines. The winery turns out quite a range of price points and styles, including labels like Ghost Pines that have been brought back since the Gallo acquisition.
Martini, who is Master Winemaker at winery that was founded by his grandfather, joined us during our tasting and took us on a tour of the winemaking facility. Along the way we sampled some wine straight from the tanks and discussed the perils of wine stained teeth.
Louis M. Martini has been a part of the California wine scene since 1938. In that time it has seen trends come and go. The "Sideways" affect has raised interest in pinot noir, but merlot sales still has a good level of consumer demand. Martini said he sees wineries shifting gradually from big, bold reds, to more drinkable wines. “Fruitiness is coming back," Martini said. "There is more softness to a lot of California reds.”
Among the wines we tasted:
Louis Martini 2003 Monte Rosso: Purple plum color, this wine is rich and smooth with hints of ripe cherries. Plenty of depth and character.
Los Ninos 2000: A Sonoma blend of 67 percent cabernet savignon, 20 percent petit verdot, 11 percent cabernet franc and 2 percent malbec, the wine has a slight hint of banana in the nose with a soft and long ripe fruit flavor.
Louis Martini 2006 Pinot Grigio: Light peach notes and a firm level of acidity are the hallmarks of this white.
Louis M. Martini 2004 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: A nice, smooth cabernet with a slight oak presence. Solid black currant and black cherry notes.
Louis Martini 2004 Port: Made from petite sirah grapes, this is a lovely rich port. Dessert in a glass.