2007 Galante Vineyards Grand Champion Red Blend

Mission Codename: And the award goes to…

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Return to Galante Vineyards and acquire a wine worthy of our elite operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Galante Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2007 Grand Champion Red Blend

Winemaker: Greg Vita


Our Operatives know that we are huge fans of Galantewines. We have featured a handful of Galante wines in the past, and today we are happy to feature their grand Champion Red, a tasty blend of 38% Malbec, 37% Petite Sirah and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon from the picturesque Carmel Valley, just inland of the coast in Monterey County. Malbec (named for the Hungarian peasant who first brought the grape to France) is a thin-skinned grape that requires more time to mature than its Bordeaux brethren, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In America, where very little Malbec is grown, the wine is often used as a minority component of Meritage blends. While Argentina is, perhaps, best-known for producing exceptional examples of the varietal, increasingly, California wineries are becoming more skilled in extracting a unique, and delicious, expression of the grape. Toss in some bold Petite Sirah and some of Galante’s fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon and the resulting wine will win any of your taste challenges!

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Extremely dark and dense ruby red in color with a dense and nearly black and inky core. Along the edges and when held to the light the ruby color becomes more apparent and when swirled, randomly spaced fat and color stained legs slowly descend to the wine below.

Smell – Rich, redolent and bold with layers of ripe blackberry, tangy black cherry, plump dark plum and tart currants blend with woody notes including spiced oak, sandalwood and cedar cigar box.. Earthy and herbal undertones and a touch of black olive adds depth and complexity.

Feel – Velvet smooth and rich, this dry and full-bodied wine has finely textured and soft tannins and a distinct dusty mineral component that expands over the palate blending with this wine’s vibrant acidity to create a chewy but plush mouth feel that last long into the finish.

Taste – Deliciously generous dark blackberry, black cherry, plum and other dark fruit blend with all the woody and earthy notes found on the nose. Toasted vanilla and mocha and long with black licorice, cigar box tobacco and a touch of bacon fat and black olive lies just underneath.

Finish – Extremely long and luxurious with the plush mouthfeel lingering as the fruit and other complex flavors go on and on and on. The finely textured minerality and tannins and tangy acidity dries the palate and makes the mouth water for another sip.

Conclusion – The 2007 Galante Vineyards Grand Champion Red Blend is a truly delicious blend, perhaps the best one we’ve tasted from Galante this year. Top shelf, yes! But a great choice for a special occasion, person or dinner. Pair this wine with your best steak or for a quiet night with someone special. Give this wine some time to open if enjoying tonight or cellar for the next ten years, perhaps more.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Jack Galante

WINE EDUCATION: I drank heavily in college!

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: My family and I have been growing wine grapes for 27 years and I built the winery in 1994.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Grow the finest grapes possible and let the fruit express itself in the wine.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: The 1994 vintage – we had three wines, Sauvignon Blanc, Red Rose Hill Cabernet Sauvignon and Blackjack Pasture Cabernet Sauvignon


AGENT RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

WINEMAKER: Our 2007 Grand Champion is the best of the best of our Estate Wines. To make this wine we choose the finest barrels of our Malbec (38%), Petite Sirah (37%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (25%) and blended them into a truly exceptional wine. We only make this wine in the very finest vintages. The resulting wine has an alluring nose of blackberry, boysenberry, coffee, vanilla, and clove. The medley of dark berries, vanilla, and coffee return on the palate. Wonderfully complex and hedonistic with ultra-soft, chewy tannins.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

WINEMAKER: Cowboy braised short ribs – or perhaps a wonderful barbequed brisket, slow cooked with hickory.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Carmel Valley so special?

WINEMAKER: Carmel Valley is so incredibly unique. You just don’t find wines from other areas of California that have our characteristics. The most unique thing about our region is the climate. The very cool nights during the growing season allow us to hang our fruit up to three weeks longer than most areas. This develops more complexity and fruit characters. We are only about 12 miles from Carmel and 10 miles from Big Sur although it seems like we are much farther away due to the terrain. As such we enjoy the best aspects of a marine climate, cool nights and hot, dry days, without the fog of the surrounding valley. Where our Blackjack Cabernet is grown it is not uncommon to have a daily temperature of 50 to 60 degrees during the growing season. This leads to a very long hang time as we normally do not harvest our grapes until into November. Our vineyards are on south facing slopes with an east-west attitude for maximum solar influence and our well drained soils and ample rainfall allow for dry farming or at least very minimal irrigation. Small yields also add to the complexity of the fruit.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

WINEMAKER: Cleaning equipment and organizing the winery to prepare for harvest. We also have some fun events coming up including our Harvest Open House on October 15th and our Blending Bash on November 5th.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

For your enjoyment, what follows is our original mission to Galante Vineyards:

[notebe sure to read the following in your best cowboy voice]

Howdy Pardners! Agent Red here, reportin’ back from the range.

During a recent mission to infiltrate the notoriousGalante Gang, I was known simply as ’Red’.

Why me? Well, match up my love for great red wines with the time I spent playing Cowboys and Indians as a child – and it was only natural that Central Command should chose me for this mission.

It had been rumored that Galante produced some of the best Cabernets in the state so I was sent to investigate. I arrived at the Galante Ranch where I was greeted by Cowboy Winemaker, Jack Galante. I told Jack right off that I was new in town and wanted to join his Gang. He looked somewhat skeptical when he noticed my shiny penny loafers, but after he sized me up, he invited me in for a tasting. (Note to self: Pay better attention to my disguises!)

Jack poured me a glass of his Cabernet Sauvignon (shouldn’t he serve it in a tin cup?). What struck me first was this wine didn’t have the overpowering aromas of chili pepper usually found in the Cabs of the Monterey region. Rather, I found sandalwood, oak, cherry, currant and rose. This is an aromatic wine that’s not afraid to boast about its character.

After some very skillful cowboy style sniffing and yelling “YEE-HAW!”, I went in for a taste. I was impressed. This is a very bright and flavorful wine that has a big mouth feel, with medium tannins and big tastes of cherry and berry.

I think that Jack was impressed with my cowboy manner. At least I think that’s why he was looking at me in that way. And, no, that’s not a Brokeback reference. Jack is all man.

This wine certainly gets my personal recommendation and I’m pretty sure that we’ll feature other Galante wines here in the future. Pair it with free range gourmet like pan-seared baked beans, cactus fritters or even a fine tumbleweed stew.

For a real Cowboy Cabernet that can be served with real cuisine, you should pick up a bottle or two. This is a wine that is ready to drink now, but could peak in just a few years.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Galante Vineyards vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.

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