2005 Napa Valley Reserve Merlot
California: Napa Valley
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Mission Codename: Three Decades And Counting
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Acquire the latest release of Mitch Cosentino’s ‘The Med’ red blend.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Cosentino Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Napa Valley Reserve Merlot
Winemaker: Mitch Cosentino
Winery Backgrounder: We have had our sights on the Cosentino Winery since before we officially founded The Wine Spies organization. Agent Red’s very favorite wine was made by Mitch Cosentino, but the winery proved elusive. It too a long time to infiltrate the winery, but Agent Red’s perseverance has paid off. Today, we bring you their delicious Napa Valley Reserve Merlot made by Mitch himself.
To true wine lovers, Merlot is one of the finest wine varietals in the world. Today, Merlot continues to sell in record numbers across the US, outpacing most other varietals. Merlot is sincere, food-fabulous wine for serious wine drinkers. If you think that Merlot is not for you, forget everything that you think you know about Merlot and embrace this stellar example
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep and dark garnet with a dense but clear core. Along the edges the color shows violet hues through its garnet base and when swirled slow fat legs of random speeds descend to the lovely wine below.
Smell – Medium bold in intensity with fresh aromas of sweet spiced dark black and red fruit including plum and black cherry. Add in classic complex notes of earth, cigar tobacco a touch of graphite pencil shavings, subtle herbal and dark cocoa powder.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this full-boded wine has finely grained well developed tannins and balanced acidity that frames the earthy and ripe fresh fruit perfectly.
Taste – Rich and ripe flavors of ripe black and red plum, red cherry and other dark fruit are integrated with notes of exotic sweet spice, subtle dried herbal and licorice notes, cigar box and tobacco along with pencil shavings and dark cocoa powder.
Finish – Long and lingering flavors of plum and cherry mingle with cedar, tobacco and an earthy component framed and supported by its sturdy but not overpowering structure.
Conclusion – The 2005 Cosentino Winery Napa Valley Reserve Merlot is a delicious and complex Merlot that has plenty of classic aromas and flavors. Sturdy in structure but not overbearing or too firm, great fruit and a long finish. A lovely wine that will complement anything on the grill.
What follows is a reproduction of my original mission filing, from when we first infiltrated Cosentino Winery:
Cosentino Winery has two important distinctions; First, my favorite wine of all time was made by Mitch Cosentino, head of winemaking for the winery. Second, the Cosentino Winery was the most elusive and difficult to bring into the Wine Spies fold.
I first fell in love with Cosentino wines while on a (very rare for me) vacation. Agent Sparkle and I had just wrapped up a mission in Central America and, with a few days left before we were due to report back in, we decided to head to Costa Rica.
Once checked in to our hotel, Hotel Casa Marella, we decided to go for a swim in the infinity pool. The pool, which overlooked the Pacific Ocean, offered a spectacular view of the ocean and the town below. I was in heaven.
Heaven got even better when Agent Sparkle arrived, a bottle of wine in hand, and a giant smile on her face. It was twilight, so I could not make out the label. She opened the bottle, poured and handed me a glass. I took it eagerly.
On inhaling the wine, I knew that it was not a Chilean wine (the most common wine found in Costa Rica). I also knew that it was an exceptional wine, maybe even a California wine. One sip, and the heaven I was in got even better.
“What’s this,” I asked.
“This? Oh, its just that bottle of Cosentino we’ve been saving”
I was shocked, but very pleasantly surprised. How had she managed to smuggle this bottle along on this trip? Had she sent it ahead? That did not make sense, as this part of our trip was improvised.
Rather than press her for details, I simply enjoyed the wine. Drinking wine in a swimming pool overlooking the ocean is a wonderful thing to do. Add a Cosentino wine and the wonderful becomes far more so!
Getting back to how difficult it was to infiltrate Cosentio, I will say that it the delay may have just come down to poor spy-craft. I was just knocking on the wrong doors at the winery. For nearly two years.
So, dear Operative, this mission report is really my Mea Culpa. I did a bad job and it took me way too long to bring you a Cosentino wine. This mission is also my way of making it up to you! Today’s wine, made by master winemaker, Mitch Cosentino, is a great wine at a remarkable price.
The winery loves what we Wine Spies are up to and they allowed us special access to their wine archives. We pulled out today’s wine for you as the first of what we expect to be a handful of additional Cosentio wines that we’ll bring you this year.
A special thanks to Agent S2 (our new inside man at the winery) and to Mitch Cosentino for hosting us at our private tasting recently. It was great fun to hang out with you both – and to listen to Mitch tell us everything about wine, growing and winemaking. We learned a ton and we loved drinking through your wines with you!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Cosentino Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Spicy on the nose with aromas of white pepper, pipe tobacco, and pomegranate give way to an evenly developed palate of ripe black cherry, anise, and cedar. Ripe tannins set the profile for the finish of dried cranberry, citrus zest, and sage.
Punch cap fermentation in open top tanks, followed by 36 months of aging in French oak.
About The Winery:
Lead by the spirit of creativity and innovation, Cosentino Winery was founded nearly 30 years ago with a commitment to making only the highest quality wines from California’s greatest vineyards.Because these same ideals ring as true today as they did in the beginning, Cosentino wines have steadily grown in quality and reputation over the years and are considered among many to be some of the finest wines made in the world.
The history of Cosentino Winery began when Mitch Cosentino started making his first wines in the corner of a Wine Distribution warehouse in 1980, in Modesto, California. By 1981, his first vintage was released under the labels of “The Cosentino Wine Company”and “Crystal Valley Cellars”. The first several wines produced and released by Cosentino in the early 1980s were made from small lots of grapes that Mitch acquired from some of the leading growers of California’s North Coast counties such as Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Sacramento Counties.
Cosentino rapidly gained recognition for his innovative winemaking abilities and uniquely crafted wines. Mitch was a pioneer in introducing new varietals into the California wine market and a leader in creating new wine blends that would eventually become commonplace in the industry. In fact, Cosentino Winery is widely recognized for its role in the development of California’s “Meritage” style wine, a Bordeaux – inspired blend that is now a staple throughout the Napa Valley when in 1989, Cosentino’s release of “The Poet” (1986 vintage), was America’s first designated and licensed “Meritage” wine. (Today, there are over 200 other wineries producing “Meritage” style wines.)
By 1989, Mitch was producing 4,000 cases per year and moved the “Cosentino Wine Company”/“Crystal Valley Cellars” to its current facility location in Yountville, California…situated in the heart of The Napa Valley. When the “Cosentino Winery” brand was established in the Napa Valley, Mitch began to negotiate and secure additional estate contracts and agreements with some of Napa’s top vineyards. These contracts and commitments allowed Mitch the ability to control the farming and harvesting of the grapes used to craft his wines. Today, Mitch still maintains contracts with many of these same growers which provide consistent quality to the wines.
In 1991, as Cosentino continued to produce multiple award winning and internationally recognized wines, he met a young couple from Chicago who had just enjoyed a bottle of Cosentino wine that would soon change all three of their lives forever.
Edie and Larry Soldinger were introduced to Cosentino Winery on a trip to Napa Valley in 1991 when they shared a bottle of Cosentino Winery’s “1986 Cabernet Franc”. They were so impressed with the wine that they sought out to find Mitch the very next day and to learn more about his winery.
Both Edie and Larry immediately recognized the potential of Cosentino Winery and they believed that they could provide an element that would help Cosentino Winery grow to keep up with its increasing demand and reputation.
By 1992, a deep relationship had evolved and Mitch Cosentino became partners with Edie and Larry, and together they began to take Cosentino Winery to its next level.
Throughout the 1990s, Cosentino Winery grew in quality and reputation, and as the demand for more wines continued, the Winery decided to purchase additional properties in the Napa Valley and Lodi regions of California.
In August 1999, the Winery purchased 160 acres in Pope Valley, a prime grape growing region nestled in the hills of Napa Valley, just north and east of the Yountville and Oakville appellations.
Additionally in August 2000, the Winery acquired a 20 acre vineyard in Lockeford, California, as well as 40 acres of virgin farmland in Clements, California…both located in the “Lodi” appellation.
The Company completed construction of its second ultra-premium winery, “Crystal Valley Cellars” on the Lockeford property in June 2004 and immediately began plans for an additional wine making facility on the Clements property, which was completed in 2006 and is now the new home of “Crystal Valley Cellars”.
The Pope Valley estate became home to Cosentino’s third ultra-premium winery, “CE2V Estate Winery”, which released its first vintage in 2001 with a 1999 “Estate” Red Meritage, and recently began producing on site with its new facility right on time for California’s 2007 Harvest.
Cosentino Wineries now operate from four “state of the art” facilities located in their vineyards throughout the heart and hills of Napa Valley, as well as in the flats and rolling hills of Lodi that rest near the base of the Sierra Mountains.
These multiple vineyard and facility locations allow Cosentino to comfortably meet the continual demand for its wines while having simultaneous control over the quality of production.
Cosentino Wineries maintain the role as a pioneer in the wine industry by continually creating new blends as well as finding and introducing relatively obscure varietals into the market place. The Company’s versatility allows it the creativity and freedom to develop new labels and add new brands to the stellar portfolio, of Cosentino Wineries, which also includes “Legends” (a joint venture with Larry Bird, the legendary basketball player), as well as the hand crafted boutique wines of the Napa Valley based “Blockheadia Winery”, both joining the family of wines in 2006.
Cosentino Signature Wineries proudly consists of five ultra premium wineries, currently offering over 50 different varietals between all their brands. Whether you’ve just fallen in love with a Cosentino wine for the first time or if you’ve been enjoying them for years, there’s always something new to discover.
The Cosentino Winery motto “Never Enough Wines” is as strong today as it has ever been!
Appellation: Napa Valley
Varietal: 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc