Thursday, October 8, 2020

Galerie Pleinair Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Galerie Pleinair Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

This is my first introduction to this label that I found at the local Sav-Way wine shop in Hinsdale. The unique name, Pleinair refers to the French painters' method of painting outdoors (en plein air), which developed around the same time as Napa's first European-style vineyards in the 1800s. 

According to the producer, Galerie wines are "portraits of place or terroir,' crafted to represent the dramatically different features of Northern California’s most prized winegrowing appellations. They source fruit for their portolio of wines from Napa Valley and Knights Valley up in Sonoma County. Napa, of course, is known for its abundant sunshine and rich, fruit-forward wines, while Knights Valley at the base of Mt. St. Helena to the north, has even cooler temperatures, and volcanic soils that produce slower-ripening fruit with distinctive minerality. 

Galerie's winemaker for Pleinaire is Gianna Kelly a native of Sonoma County, where she was introduced to wine at an early age watching her father manage wine list selections for their family restaurant. After graduating from Santa Clara University with a degree in Chemistry, she initially pursued a career in research with IBM. As she says, she quickly found that polymers weren’t as alluring as vineyards, and redirected her chemistry skills to the wine industry as a chemist for Enologix in her hometown of Sonoma. She landed a post as enologist at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars where she fell in love with Bordeaux varieties and honed her winemaking skills by working with Cabernet Sauvignon. She then served as assistant winemaker for St. Francis Winery, working with a wide variety of vineyard sources.

In 2018, Gianna joined the team at Cardinale as an assistant winemaker and in 2019, she became head winemaker for Galerie wines.

The fruit for this vintage release of label is from four different vineyards from four different in AVA's (Agriculture Viticulture Areas, also known as appellations) in Napa Valley. The producer exclaims, 'sourcing the fruit from vineyards with diverse soil types brings complexity and depth to the finished wine, which shows rich black fruit, spice and floral notes with a firm tannin structure and balanced acidity.'
“Making Galerie wines gives me the chance to unite my passion for Bordeaux varieties with my curiosity for the way different vineyard sites express their own unique personalities,” says Gianna. “I enjoy the challenge of developing each small vineyard lot in the cellar and then choosing from a satisfying number of options when it comes time to blend. This helps me create balanced wines that showcase the delightful distinctions between two exceptional wine regions.” 
Contrary to the claims of the producer, I would argue that blending fruit from several disparate diverse sources may provide complexity, it obscures and negates the sense of terroir or place in the wine, especially if and as they vary from vintage to vintage. 

The four vineyard sources are:

The Yverdon Vineyard is on from the Spring Mountain AVA, perched high on the steeply terraced slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains along the western edge of Napa Valley. There the marine layer of fog and breezes that waft up from San Pablo Bay bring cooler days and warmer nights than on the valley floor. Its clay loam & volcanic loam soils introduces acidity and juicy-honey flavors & black fruit and floral notes into the wine. 

The Van Z Vineyard in the Saint Helena AVA has sedimentary, gravel-clay soils that are dry farmed to balance the tannin structure.

The highly acclaimed Stage Coach Vineyard from the Atlas Peak AVA has red volcanic soils in the Vaca Mountain Range on the Eastern Slope of Napa Valley that inputs bone and mineral spice into the wine. 
Lastly, the Red Hen Vineyard in the lower southwestern valley Yountville AVA has sedimentary and alluvial soils that impart acidity and brightness. 
Galerie Pleinair Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

This label received
92 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and 91 points from Decanter.
Dark garnet colored, full bodied, super ripe rich concentrated raisiny prune-like blackberry, black cherry and ripe plum fruits with baking spices, olive tapenade, black tea and herbs with a narrow moderate tannin finish.
RM 89 points.