What We Say 2005 Blackjack Pasture Cabernet Sauvignon
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Mission Codename: You go Black-jack, do it again
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Operative favorite, Galante Vineyards, and secure Cowboy Jack Galante’s newest Blackjack Pasture Cabernet Sauvignon, his stunning 2005. Wrangle a some for our range-riding Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Galante Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2005 Blackjack Pasture Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Greg Vita
Backgrounder: Each year, The Wine Spies eagerly anticipate Jack Galante’s latest Blackjack Pasture Cabernet Sauvignon. Grown in select blocks of his estate vineyard on his Carmel Valley ranch, the Blackjack is always our favorite of his wonderful Cabernets. This 2005 vintage surprises us with its freshness and its expressive fruit. Read Agent Red’s tasting analysis and mission report, below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Viewed from the side, this wine has a distinctly garnet hue. Viewed from above, though, and it shows as gorgeous clear ruby, through and through. The edges of the wine show a soft pink and skinny legs streak down the glass after swirling.
Smell – Bold red cherry and rose bush leap from the glass in initial inhalation. Aromas of blackberry, violets, currant and soft cedar follow. Subtle hints of red pepper infuse dark chocolate sit underneath.
Feel – Fine and smooth on entry, then quickly grippy at the front of the tongue and fine tannins take hold, spreading an easy mineral-driven dryness around the palate.
Taste – Red fruit of dark cherry, strawberry and raspberry lead the way. These are followed by darker flavors of blackberry juice, purple plum and dark red rose petals.
Finish – Long and flavorful, the wine starts high and bright, then goes darker as a soft minerality digs in and tart flavors of mixed berry compote make a brief appearance before flavors tail off slowly.
Conclusion – What can I say? I continue to be in love with Jack Galante’s wines. His Blackjack Cabernet, made from his best estate fruit, is a perennial favorite that always impresses me. The 2005 is currently showing as a slightly softer style than last years vintage, with a flavor profile that rivals all past vintages of the wine. For those familiar with wines of the Carmel Valley – in Monterey County – you will be impressed. For those used to Napa or Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is a great treat if you are ready for something different. The Blackjack is Jack Galante’s best-selling estate Cab, and one sip reveals why; This is a delicious wine that delivers the goods – on so many levels. Pair with a cowboy steak and a helping of baked beans – or your finest fare. This is one flexible and food-friendly pardner.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Galante Vineyards 2005 Blackjack Pasture Cabernet Sauvignon
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: Blackjack Pasture is our signature cabernet sauvignon. The grapes come from a specific field of only 2.8 acres which is situated at 980 feet in elevation. The vines are 27 years old and produce an average of slightly over 2 tons per acre on a normal year, producing approximately 400 cases. The wine is aged in 100% new French Oak for a period of about a year, and then bottle aged for a few more years prior to release. We find that this particular wine really likes some time in the bottle. Blackjack Pasture was named after a family roping horse that both my brother and I learned to rope on. When we were teenagers blackjack was getting quite old and when she was 27 years old, which is quite old for a horse, our ranch foreman told us that it was time to put her down since she was dragging her head and not looking too well. Sadly we agreed so one morning he led old Blackjack to a grave he had dug and told her it was time to go. Well, she took one look at that hole in the ground, kicked up her heals, ran away and lasted 7 more years! So with her spirit we had to name our signature wine after her.
Our 2005 Blackjack Pasture is really quite an elegant wine, even though it has the characteristic big mouth feel of our Blackjack Pastures of the past. Upon opening the wine one is immediately struck by the fragrant nose of cedar (cigar box) and fresh earth. A hint of sweet vanilla lingers on the edge. This wine really gets explosive on the pallet after a decanting, although it very pleasurable when poured right to the glass. The flavors are bright and bold at the same time with bittersweet chocolate and coffee quite dominate encompassed in a blackberry blanket. The toasty oak lingers in the background. It is really drinking wonderfully now, but like all of our Blackjack Pasture Cabernets, and most cowboys, it will really age well.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: STEAK – a Cowboy Cut Rib Eye with a good ranch rub.
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. 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: Work at the winery is never ending. Right now we are spending lots of time in the vineyards suckering and removing excess shoots to reduce the yield. After quite a bit of rainfall growth has been excessive so we are spending a lot of time reducing this. I wish there was a market for weeds as this has been quite a year for the grasses to grow! We also spending a lot of time mowing in between the rows and disking some of the fields. Work in the winery itself never really ends – topping barrels, preparing for summer events, repairing equipment, there is always something to do.
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:
note: be 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 notorious Galante 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.
For a real pairing, we recommend a delicious Montana Legend steak
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Glante Vineyards, including the Blackjack Pasture, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Cowboy Philosophy: “Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.”
About This Wine:
The “Blackjack Pasture” is our signature wine and our most powerful and exclusive cabernet sauvignon from a tiny 2.4 acre parcel that produces very small yields and intensely colored small berried grapes. Every vintage sees 100% new french oak to match the massive black fruit this vineyard gives. This opulent and thick cab has currant and blackberry flavors with lush chocolate notes.
About Our Winery:
At Galante Vineyards our philosophy is simple: grow the finest grapes possible and let the fruit express itself in the wine. Since all of our grapes are estate grown, each bottle of wine we produce embodies the characteristics of our unique region, exhibiting the natural flavors that are born from the land.
The Galante Family has a long history in the Monterey area. Owner Jack Galante’s great grandfather, J.F. Devendorf, was the founder of the town of Carmel. He later built the Pine Inn and the prestigious Highlands Inn. In 1969, Jack’s parents purchased a 700-acre cattle ranch in rustic Carmel Valley. While still maintaining a working cattle ranch, the Galantes, in 1983, began growing premium grapes on their property, specializing in Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1994, Jack Galante decided to build a winery and use some of his grapes to produce ultra-premium estate bottled wines. Today Galante is recognized as one of the premier Cabernet Sauvignon producers in Monterey County and all of California.
About Our Wine:
We produce very limited quantities of Estate Bottled 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from two single vineyards, Red Rose Hill and Blackjack Pasture. Our philosophy is to grow the finest grapes possible and let them speak for themselves through the wine. Several factors influence the quality of the grapes grown at our vineyards. Due to the extreme daily temperature variations in Cachagua (upper Carmel Valley), the growing season is very long with harvest normally occurring in mid October. This long “hang time” causes the grapes to ripen slowly, intensifying their rich berry flavors. We also thin the crop to an average of two tons per acre providing a low yield of very high quality grapes. We do not use pesticides or herbicides in the vineyards and only irrigate when needed. These methods, and others, combine to produce the highest quality grapes (see Vintner).Estate Wines, Galante Vineyards, California Wines
Our wine label is very special to us and reflects our roots and our efforts at Galante Vineyards. The image of the label is a photograph of real leather, hand-tooled by a California saddle maker with conchos in each corner designed by a local silversmith. The artwork for Red Rose Hill and Blackjack Pasture was created by world-renowned artist, G.H. Rothe. Our vineyard names are also meaningful; Blackjack Pasture is adjacent to the field where a favorite roping horse, Blackjack, spent the last of her 36 years. Red Rose Hill rises above a field of crimson rose bushes (just a small portion of our thousands of rose bushes), and Rancho Galante celebrates our beginnings as a cattle ranch, known as “Rancho Galante”. Even our back labels incorporate our cowboy image by including a special “Cowboy Philosophy” hand picked by owner Jack Galante.