I can remember when I started in wine back in the late 90’s, one of the first wines that I bought by the case for myself was Marietta Cellers Old Vine Red. It was so affordable, back then about $10.00 a bottle, but this wine offered so much serious depth and flavor. I could not wait to drink another bottle. It was like a mini Chateauneuf-du-Pape with silky fruit and even some earthiness. I have continued to carry this wine for years, but over time, and with all the new wines now available, I haven’t had a bottle in probably a decade. Last week, I saw a review in the Wine Advocate with 94 points on this wine so I had to pop open a bottle of the new Lot 71 and decided it was too good not to share!
Marietta Cellars was founded by Sonoma County native Chris Bilbro in 1978. Back then, he purchased whatever grapes he could to make wine, but it was excellent from the start. His family had three generations making wine in California, so winemaking was in his blood. Today, his son Scot Bilbro is running the estate. In 2007, Scot graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology and began working full time at the winery. In 2012, he became the winemaker; under his leadership he has brought Marietta more great accolades than ever. He says he learned by watching his father, not only in the winery but at home cooking ribs, blending the spices to make them balanced, just like making a wine. Today, Marietta’s wines are mostly estate grown and are all organic, from their 310 acres in Alexander Valley, McDowell Valley, and Yorkville Highlands.
Old Vine Red is a wine made to honor the field blends of Sonoma back when they did not know what every vine in their vineyards would produce. These old vineyards would have varietals like Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Syrah all growing together, winemakers just mixed them all and made the best wine they could. Marietta first released this multiple vintage, multiple varietal wine in 1982 and it is recognized as the first "Red Blend" made in the US. Since its first vintage, it has been an incredible value, the Wine Advocate had this to say, "For over three decades one of the greatest values in dry California red wine has been the nonvintage kitchen sink blend from the Bilbro’s family-owned Marietta Cellars…This wine flies off retailers’ shelves, so smart consumers take note.”
These wines are from Marietta Cellars, one that I have known forever and another I wish I knew earlier! The Armé Cabernet is made from 100% organically grown estate fruit from their Anderson Valley and McDowell Valley vineyards. There is a little Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot blended in and the wine spends 20 months in older oak barrels. The style is New World with its dark fruit flavors but with an Old World savoy, earthy finish.
The Old Vine Red is one to consider by the case, or better yet mix one up anyway you would like and enjoy a serious Cabernet Sauvignon also!
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