This well crafted wine is stunning. Sometimes it really is just that simple.
Terroir. We've come to understand that terroir isn't the exclusive, definitive determinant of the character of a wine that we once imagined it was. While the question of terroir is no longer cast immutably in stone, it is unquestionable that soil and place enhance and contribute to the skills of the wine maker, which is why Oz Shiraz is distinguishable from California Syrah, despite the commonality of the varietal. Both, after all, are made from the same grape, but there is no mistaking Australian Shiraz.
As a rule, Dry Creek wines rarely disappoint and the Frei Ranch Cab is no exception in its celebration of the magic that is Dry Creek Valley. The Gallo family had a long association with the Frei brothers dating to the end of prohibition and ultimately purchased the ranch in the late 1970's. Concurrently, the vineyard was replanted, the result of which is this single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon blended with just a tease of Petit Verdot.
Occasionally one finds a wine like this where it is immediately apparent from the aroma of the bouquet that something special is happening in the glass. In these rare instances there isn't any waiting for the wine to open up, from the first sip to the dregs, one is treated to the promise of Dionysus. And the overt reaction is simple. This wine is really good.
The Frei Ranch Cab is a gorgeous full bodied wine with black fruits, hints of a rich earthiness on the nose and palate, firm tannins, and a long and mellow finish. Enjoyable today and, I suspect, for the next decade or so.
Best part? It's forty bucks US. From the winery! Gotta be less elsewhere if you can find it. Repeat after me: I've had wines costing twice this much that weren't half as good. Yes, it's a mantra and another illustration of the basic principle stating that sometimes the relationship between the price of a wine and its quality is tenuous.
Frei Ranch Vineyard at Sunset
You'll want to pair this wine with herb roasted prime rib, medium rare mesquite grilled New York steaks, or a succulent, falling-off-the bone roast pork. Okay, lamb too.
This wine shows tremendous depth with dark, ripe fruits and toasty complexity from oak barrel aging. An intriguing top note of spicy strawberry jam lends an almost ethereal quality to the aroma. In the mouth the wine is full, rich and chewy. The mid-palate shows enough density to suggest long-term aging for those who can resist all of this wine's current charm.
Photo appears courtesy of Gallo Family Vineyards