jamie goode's wine blog: Two from Gallo

Friday, October 16, 2009

Two from Gallo

Should I just ignore giant brands such as California's largest, E&J Gallo? Or are big brands something that wine writers should comment on?

Of course, Gallo is just one brand of many (c. 60) in the E&J Gallo portfolio, but as a company, they probably crush more grapes than the entire Australian wine industry, and are the second largest wine company in the world (if you count Constellation as a single wine company). Size is only hinted at on their website (gallo.com), where they mention that they employ 4600 people. Production is around 60 million cases a year.

Here are my notes on two Gallo wines. They sell very well in the UK, but I can't help feeling that punters could buy much tastier wines than these for £6, if they'd leave the comfort zone of a familiar brand. The Chardonnay is nicer than the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Gallo Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 California
13% alcohol. Why do I dislike this wine? It’s really not because it says ‘Gallo’ on the label (the wine company that many love to hate, simply because it is so big). Rather, it is because it has a superficial attractiveness, with sweet red berry fruit, and then as you look closer you find a green, aggressively herbal streak hidden underneath all the confected, jammy fruit. It’s both over-ripe and green at the same time, and I find it a bit sickly. But it is certainly drinkable. 74/100 (£5.99 just about everywhere)

Gallo Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2008 California
13% alcohol. A ripe, almost off-dry fruity white wine with hints of butter and toast alongside the smooth peach, grape and pear fruit. Simple and monodimensional, but clean and correct. An accessible, easy drinking wine – perhaps a stepping stone from Liebfraumilch to drier styles of white wine? No rough edges. 79/100 (£5.99 just about everywhere)

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At 10:44 AM, Blogger Dan McGrew said...

Why not comment on mass market wines such as Gallo? They have their place.

I have poured the Gallo Chardonnay a couple of times when the friends who were at dinner were not big wine drinkers. The dinners were more about the friends than the wine and the Gallo was a totally safe way to go.

On one occasion the folks were interested in wine but were just beginning down that slippery slope. The Gallo was a wine they could easily find in the market without taking notes and writing down names on slips of paper to go in their wallet for the next trip to the market. It's always available in almost every market.

Your point about it possibly leading to better things happened with these friends as their wine of choice after several years is now the village wines from Macon. And the last time they were over for dinner I poured a Premier Cru Chablis and they were more than delighted.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger The Wine Mule said...

There are exceptions, but for the most part I don't comment on mass-market wines. First, because they already receive plenty of coverage in the mainstream press; second, because the handful of people who read my blog are just not interested them, and third, because I'm not really interested in these wines, it's hard for me to say anything interesting about them.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger CabFrancoPhile said...

It's unfortunate wines such as these Gallo embarrassments are what get exported from California. Especially for the equivalent of 10 USD, a very high price for a generic 'California' appellation. These are typical for low end US wine, but they do paint an ugly stereotype of CA wine.

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Beth - The Wine School said...

I'm with The Wine Mule on this one. Gallo does receive plenty of coverage and has a decent export enterprise going for it, to boot. At this day and age, there is such a proliferation of wine blogs, books, magazines....Well, one has so many resources available to them to learn about great wines - available at exactly the same price as a Gallo one - that are, indeed, so much the better.

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Tim said...

It's not all bad. I thought the Sonoma County Cabernet was pretty good (although it should be for the price: http://timswineblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/gallo-sonoma-county-cabernet-sauvignon.html

I've also tried the Coastal Vineyards Chardonnay and I thought it was pretty bad...


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