On a recent cool, rainy Spring afternoon we made our way up to Yountville to pay a visit to Cosentino Winery. Located at 7415 St. Helena Highway, the winery sits on the West side of Highway 29 right next door to Cindy Pawlcyn’s fabulous Mustards Grill. For more on the history of the winery, go here.
We parked along side one of the several cars in the parking lot and made our way toward the simple structure covered with a bright green plant (didn’t appear to be ivy). After reading the large banner touting the winery’s award for its 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, we found the pair of large brown wooden doors and stepped inside.
The tasting room: Upon entering, we were somewhat surprised to find the tasting room to be on the smaller side–particularly given the large overall size of the building. On our immediate right was a small setup of memorabilia and wine paraphernalia for sale, to the left was the tasting bar. While somewhat small, we found the space to be quaint and very approachable. Numerous bottles of Cosentino wines lined the back wall, many with various ribbons hanging proudly from them. Behind the tasting room bar, a door was open allowing us to see cellar workers milling about and moving barrels.
The staff: As we entered we quickly realized we were the only customers in the tasting room. A friendly staffer immediately greeted us and welcomed us as we stepped up to the bar. After explaining the various tasting options and answering a couple of our questions about the winery and business in general, we were on to our first pour. Throughout our time at the winery, the staff were relaxed, informative and totally approachable. Despite not having a large crowd in the tasting room, there were always at least two staff members at the bar at all times–meaning we were able to get whatever level of service we wanted.
The wines: On this day, there were two tasting options available. First, a “Vintage Tasting” for $15 per person that included a total of five wines (two whites, three reds). The other option, the “Signature Tasting”, gives you five different red wines for $30 per person. We opted for the “Vintage Tasting” and started with a white Meritage.
The 2007 ‘The Novelist’ White Meritage, which retails for $22 per 750ml bottle, is an interesting blend of 77% Sauvignon Blanc and 23% Semillon. Now a White Meritage is not a wine we’ve encountered too often, but we enjoyed the hints of lime and citrus on the nose and a clean, crisp minerality on the palate. The Novelist was fermented and matured in oak upright tanks (20%), stainless steel tanks (20%) and French oak barrels (60%).
Up next was the 2006 Oakville Chardonnay, which showed strong hints of pear and apple on the nose as well as on the palate. At $30 per 750ml bottle, this medium bodied wine had a bit more oak flavor notes than we typically like in a Chardonnay, but was fresh and crisp overall. In an attempt to help the wine maintain its natural acidity, it was not inoculated for malolactic fermentation, which did help provide a solid balance.
We then moved on to the first of the three red wines, a 2006 Sangiovese II Chiaretto. Given how much we love Cabernet Sauvignon, we were a bit surprised by how much we enjoyed this wine. On the nose we got strong hints of bright red fruits–strawberry and raspberry–and on the palate we enjoyed the long finish made up of cherry and blackberry. At $25 per 750ml bottle, this was our favorite wine of the day–we found it imminently drinkable and could see it easily pairing with homemade pizza, spaghetti or even grilled hamburgers.
After the Sangiovese, we moved on to the 2005 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. At $45 per 750ml bottle, the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot, 2% Petite Verdot and 2% Malbec. Dark ruby in the glass, we found the nose to be classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, meaning strong red fruits that jump right out of the glass at you. The wine was medium-to-full-bodied, had a long, supple finish with hints of plumb.
As a bonus pour, we were then treated to a taste of the 2005 Oakville Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (retail is $80 per 750ml bottle). This is the wine the large banner out front was touting–it apparently scored 98 points at the California State Fair. Compared to the 2005 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon we had just tried, the Oakville Estate Cabernet was far more refined overall. With a more subtle nose, the wine showed quite nicely on the palate with hints of black pepper and a long, lingering finish that featured chocolate and cherry flavor notes.
Our final wine of the day was a 2006 ‘The Zin’, which is composed of 97% Zinfandel and 3% Petite Sirah and retails for $26 per 750ml bottle. This wine showed the classic California Zinfandel characteristics–big, bold, in-your-face fruits. On the nose we got hints of raspberry and blackberry, which also translated to the palate and mixed with hints of white pepper and spice. While certainly not the style our palates favor, we could see the ’06 Zin being a favorite of many, particularly at its price point.
The Cork Board rating: 3 corks (out of 5 possible). A small but relaxed tasting room, a few unique wines and a friendly and funny staff make this a wine tasting experience we can recommend to others. If you’re looking for a formal, super-informational wine tasting experience, this is probably not your best bet. But, if you’re looking to try some decent wines in a no pressure setting, give Cosentino Winery a shot.
Have you visited Cosentino Winery lately? Leave us a comment and tell us what you thought of the experience. Also, be sure to check out our previous wine tasting reviews.