TN: 1994 Gallo Family Vineyards / Gallo of Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon Estate

1994 Gallo Family Vineyards / Gallo of Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon Estate - USA, California, Sonoma County, Northern Sonoma (6/1/2014)
Had this at a local steakhouse. On first open, beautiful fruity and floral nose. Not giving much on the palate at first, but after decanting really opened nicely with well balanced fruit, wood, soft tannins, with secondary flavors of mint and a hint of tobacco. Medium to long finish, and a great companion to the food. Very heavy sediment in this bottle so decanting suggested. Could go a couple of more years. (91 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Goodness we drank up this wine back in my Fla Gulf Coast days. Would not have thought it would see 20 gracefully so thanks for the note and memories.

They used to have a tasting room on the here on the Healdsburg Plaza Square, and used to sell this wine there…I never saw it in retail stores so I’m guessing it was small production…

I recall tasting there regularly when we would crawl the tasting rooms on the square, and thinking the wines were very odd tasting ( I was a 30 something, Dot com, Nap Cab guy at the time)…I never knew why they tasted weird to my palate, but I wish I had bought and set a bottle or two aside to get a more experienced perspective on them.

Thanks for the note.

One of my 1st great QPR wines. Like Glenn, I drank mine up long ago and would have never imagined it making old bones.

Interestingly the fruit was still fairly vibrant and fresh tasting. It must have been stored under pretty good conditions. I honestly was a little disappointed yet somewhat interested when the owner first brought over the bottle. It really was a pleasant surprise.

Do you know if there was a 1991 Mark? We swallowed up that vintage pretty widely too!

Note sure Glenn, next time I’m in there I will look for it.

A little off topic, but has anyone had a wine called Marcelina from Gallo. I received this 2000 Napa Cab in an etched 3 L bottle as a gift years ago. Very curious about it, but no notes on cellar tracker.

These were a nice foray into some higher end program compared to their Jug Program. I Had the Single Vineyard wines back in the Mid 90’s. Nice QPR’s I should see if i have a couple hiding in the racks.

They did try to make more “upscale” wines for a while, not sure why they didn’t stick with it. Perhaps consumers couldn’t wrap their brains around paying premium prices with “Gallo” on the label?

It was their first Cabernet release in 1981 that changed my mind about Gallo. A salesman had dropped off a bottle of a non-vintage Cabernet to me (later relabeled 1978) that was from the 1978 vintage - and I of course was a complete snob about Gallo back them because of the huge amounts of jug wines they sold (and Carlo Rossi). I put this bottle in a blind tasting of 1978 Cabernets and it just stunned all of us. It had beautiful balance and fruit - and I think sold for around $6 a bottle.

I ended up purchasing every case of the 1978 that came into our market back then (I was a buyer for a huge chain) and we shocked everyone with it.

I would guess that most of that fruit is going into the Louis Martini bottlings now -

I don’t know my way around Gallo, but they do purchase fruit one row over from my own, and have for decades. I remember years ago, there was a big to-do out in our shared avenue, and actually using my driveway. I did not throw them off, as I saw a photo shoot happening with a couple of old guys harvesting fruit as if they were youngsters. So fun. Not sure what that fruit goes into now, maybe Martini. I should ask. Just a fun anecdote to toss in.

The 1990 Gallo Estate was the first release of their higher end cabernet, and what a wine that was. The 1990 made and reared by the inimitable Julio Gallo. He then passed away shortly after that, I think he may have had a hand in the 1991 not sure. The 1990 was impressive for about 10 years but did not make old bones IMO.

Very cool story Merrill -

I remember that 1978, pretty nice wine.


If I had to place the time, it would be around 2006. Maybe 2007. I really don’t know. What I do know is that what is reported on the boards is but a glimpse of what really grows and happens here. One row over from Gallo is Caymus…Etude…Agricultural Napa is rich in history…family…respect. Blurred property lines - I still don’t know where mine are. I have fought and continue to fight against overdevelopment here in Napa Valley.

Thanks for this piece of history.

Yes …I rmember well as I owned the 1990, 1991 and also 1995. The price for the wine in Quebec, Canada as around CA $ 40 whereas it was at around US $60 in Californina USA.

Juilo died due to an car acident.

Uncorked bottle #1 of a case I found. What a perfect cork, wine was actually tight at first and pretty tannic - quite drying. 45 minutes of air was very friendly to this wine, five of us really enjoyed the look back this bottle provided.

Northern Sonoma on the label, any clue as to vineyard? E of Santa Rosa on Hwy 12 maybe?

I haven’t seen a bottle of the “Estate”, maybe since the 1994 was released. On wine searcher they list it up to 1997. Looks like you can get most at around $45-$50 a bottle. Probably some steals if bottles ever come up at auction.

I had the 94 “Frei Ranch Vineyard” version of this wine this week and couldn’t get past the shoe polish on the nose. Palate was a tad better but just can’t drink a wine that doesn’t smell good (or at least not like shoe polish!). Like Glenn, I used to drink a lot of these wines 20 years ago - they were great values.