2005 Almond Flat Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Almond Flat
California: Monterey County
What We Say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Galante Vineyards.
Mission Codename: The Burgundian Cowboy
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Sleuth out a California Pinot Noir, made in a true Burgundian style and procure an ample allotment for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Galante Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2005 Almond Flat Estate Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Greg Vita
Backgrounder: In America most Pinot Noir comes from California, particularly from wineries in Napa and Sonoma. Other Pinot Noir come from Oregon, and from Washington and New York sates. California Pinot is characterized as having a very fruit forward style with fruit flavors ranging from cherry, strawberry and raspberry and, to a lesser extent, vegital and earthy flavors. Compare Cali Pinot Noir to any French Burgundy (Pinot in France) and you will find that the bright fruit flavors are typically the standouts, where French Burgundy expresses more dark and dusky flavors and aromas. Attribute these differences to climate, soil, grape clone and winemaking techniques. On occasion, however, we find the California producer that creates a Pinot Noir in a Burgundian-style. Today’s wine from Galante delivers an experience that combines best of both worlds. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and his mission report below to learn more about this superior Pinot Noir.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Rich ruby red to burgundy in color with a loose surface, a deep burgundy heart with a slight opaqueness and concentrated color to the edges, with and long, thin legs when swirled
Smell – Big dark fruit of dusky plum, overripe blackberry and cherry with subtle and very unique spices that remind us of Morocco
Feel – Soft and round up front, smooth across the mid, then the wines medium tannins take hold, coating the mouth, gripping tongue and back of the mouth
Taste – Great big flavors of dark fruit, dusky earth, truffle, chewy plum, subtle smoked meat and twigs
Finish – Full and flavorful across the entire palate, with sweet then dusky-tart as the flavors taper off leaving a slight mineral dryness
Conclusion – Drinking this wine, I have to wonder if the Burgundy region in France – which runs from Auxerre in the north down to Mâcon in the south of the country – has been extended to include Carmel Valley, California! This wine was a big surprise to me. Dedicated Operatives know that I am a big fan of Monterey County Pinot Noir – when its done right. With only two wineries making Pinot Noir in the Carmel Valley, pickin’s are slim and only one of the wineries (in my humble opinion) produces Pinot that I can wholeheartedly recommend. Today’s Almond Flat Pinot Noir from Galante is an interesting and very delicious wine that strikes a real balance between Cali Pinot Noir and traditional French Burgundy. If you are a fan of either style, you’ll certainly enjoy this great wine
The phone rang in in the middle of the night, jolting me out of a dream in which I had become world famous for creating a new wine hybrid of Pinot Noir which I dubbed, “PinotFranc”. Of course, we all know that any such accomplishments would have to be made without risk to my secret identity.
“Hello?”, I answered groggily.
“If you get thrown from a horse, you have to get up and get back on,” said the voice on the other end.
This jolted me awake.
I quickly answered with the conformation phrase, “Unless you landed on a cactus; then you have to roll around and scream in pain.”
Pass phrase confirmed, the voice said, “Dead-drop, 3am”, and he hung up.
Glancing at my watch a saw that I had less than an hour to pick up the wine sample that would be left for me at our pre-arranged drop location. I sprang out of bed, dressed and drove like the dickens to the spot.
Getting there a few minutes early meant that I might actually get a look at my Galante winery mole, a person whom I had never met in person and whose identity was unknown to me. I parked and took up a position about 30 yards from the drop, an antique bench in the middle of a public arboretum. I waited until I had just enough time to make it to the drop at 3am. Darn, I had missed him – this time.
Reaching beneath the bench, I pulled out a 2-bottle wine carrier. Peering inside I saw two bottles of Galentes newest Pinot Noir, his 2005 Almond Flat, a wine reupted to be a stellar Burgundian-style wine with tons of character – and a great price. A note was attached which read:
“Howdy Red, Jack Galante here. Don’t worry, your cover’s not blown. I must reveal that I am your mole. I just love the cowboy cloak and six-shooters so much that I couldn’t help myself. Anyway, pardner, enjoy the wine. I have reserved a small allocation for your Operatives and wanted to give them a chance to lasso some before it all got rustled up. Yipee Ki-Pinot! – Cowboy Winemaker, Jack G.”
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Galante vineyards, deep in the badlands of the Carmel Valley, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
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About This Wine:
Our 2005 Almond Flat Pinot Noir is grown 1000 feet above our Cabernet Vineyards at 1800 feet in elevation. The weather in our hills is influenced by its close proximity to the coast (10 miles) and is therefore more moderate than the weather in the valley below. Our Pinot Noir is very Burgundian with big, bold flavors or dark plum and Moroccan spice. This wine drinks wonderfully now and will age well for the next 7 to 10 years.
Our “Almond Flat” Vineyard is situated at 1800 feet above sea level, making it the highest vineyard in Monterey County. It is 1000 feet above our Cabernet vineyards and, as such, has an entirely different climate and soil structure. While in our valley the temperature variance is 50 – 70 degrees per day, the temperature variance at the Almond Flat is much less extreme. It is cooler in the day by about 10-15 degrees, influenced by the maritime temperatures from the Monterey Bay only 12 miles away, and warmer at night by about the same amount. This more temperate climate along with highly drained decomposed granite soils with little nutrients provide excellent growing conditions for our Burgundian style Pinot Noir. The clones are sourced from the highly valued Calera vineyards producing rich, bold flavors of dark plum and Moroccan spice. This wine drinks wonderfully now and will age well for the next 7 to 10 years.
Our cowboy philosophy for this wines states: Don’t squat with your spurs on!
Jack’s favorite recipe with this wine is Wood Oven Whole Lamb stuffed with a mixture of sun-dried tomatoes, feta, mint, garlic and oregano. Cooked for about 6 hours the whole lamb will feed a crew of hungry wranglers. Of course, this recipe can be modified if a whole lamb is not available. BBQ a stuffed boneless leg of lamb for similar results."
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.