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November Wine Time with Bill Carlson
Bill Carlson, Seville Quarter
One of the most frequent questions about wine I get is why there are so few great California wines in the market for under $10. Spain, Italy, France and Argentina all have a bevy of terrific wines at this competitive price point. So why not California?
The biggest disadvantage California has is very expensive land cost for the vineyards coupled with high labor and insurance costs compared with their foreign competitors. With economies of scale California can compete with anyone in wines over $25 but generally have lackluster offerings in the $8-$10 range.
But I’m happy to report I have tasted two wines from California that are well made and bona fide bargains at $8.99. They’re not only California wines but come from the rarified air of Napa Valley. It’s difficult finding a Napa wine for under $20. An acre of land in Napa can go anywhere from $50,000 to $400,000 an acre depending on location. And by law if a wine says Napa on the label, 85% of the grapes must come from the Napa Valley. It gets expensive!
The Napa Valley Winery that makes tasty wines for under $10 is Ca’ Momi. Ca’ Momi is an Italian contraction for House of Momi, a beloved family home in Veneto, Italy. So yes, this California wine has Italian influence as its owners are three Italians with years of winemaking experience who fell in love with Napa valley. They combine the best of both worlds; rich, sun-drenched fruit from Napa Valley paired with Old World Winemaking techniques that make balanced wines that are meant to pair well with food.
The 2014 Ca’ Momi Bianco di Napa is a crisp, white blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Grigio. The wine is easy to drink and has aromatics of jasmine, tropical fruits and a great deal of complexity for a wine in this price range. I love how pure the fruit is and is refreshing by itself but has enough body to pair with our coastal cuisine.
I totally dug the red blend from Ca’ Momi. The 2014 Rosso di Napa is a fruit driven blend of Cabernet, Zinfandel, Merlot and Petite Sirah. This reminds me of one of my favorite California blends, Marietta old Vine Red but done in a less ripe and drier style. Blends are super popular today and Winemakers love the art of blending different grapes. Ca’ Momi got this blend right! Dark berries, baking spice and a touch of smoke emerge from the glass. Rich fruit but not overpowering, I’ve tasted many Napa reds that sell for $20-$30 that can’t touch this!
With Thanksgiving upon us both of these wines need to be on your table. The typical Thanksgiving feast has many savory, sweet, tart, salty and meaty flavors. No one wine can pair with all those contrasting flavors. I suggest using both the Ca’ Momi Bianco and Rosso di Napa this Thanksgiving. Amazingly affordable at $8.99 and available at Seville’s Wine and Gift Shoppe.