x
United States

    My Column

    My Favorite Wine?

    During & after my many years in the wine industry, the question I'm most often asked by consumers has been:

           “What’s your favorite wine?”

    If I’ve never told you – I really dislike this question. There is no good or definitive answer. My tongue-in-cheek answer has always been “The bottle that’s open.” At least that gets people to chuckle.

    Now for a bit of education. Your palate changes constantly. What you prefer this morning might completely change by the end of the day, and will certainly change tomorrow. My favorite wine? I can give you a different favorite every time you ask. The factors used to determine the wine I would choose to drink at any given time vary, and intermingle. My choice would always be effected by:

    • My health
    • Who I’m with
    • The weather
    • How much sleep I had the night before
    • What food(s) are being combined with the wine
    • My mood
    • The time of day
    • How much time I have allocated to enjoy the wine
    • The ambiance of the location
    • Etc.

    One day my “favorite” might be a great old Bordeaux or Burgundy. The next day I might prefer a big bold California Cabernet. Some days I’d choose a bright bottle of Sancerre, are a slightly spritzy off-dry Moscato. My favorite will even change throughout a meal, as different wines are paired with different food combinations in different courses (appetizer, main course, dessert, etc.)

    So, if you meet someone knowledgeable about wine, don’t ask them what their favorite is, ask them to educate you about the bottle that is open before you!

    Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll backtrack. I do have some  go-to categories. On any given day, I might choose to venture away from these “go-tos,” but to be completely honest, I do have preferences.

    Here we go:

                      Champagne. If I were to be stranded on a desert island & told I could choose only one wine to drink for the rest of my life, it would be fine Champagne (or some of the other great sparkling wines of the world…but I have a particular fondness for true French Champagne). That doesn’t mean Champagne is a favorite over any of the other categories listed here. It is simply the most versatile of all. Champagne goes well with almost any food. It can be served at any time of the day or night, by itself, or with any course of your meal. It also has a magical quality, in that it seems to bring a smile to the face of most people who taste it. To me, Champagne is perhaps God’s most perfect beverage, for its wonderful qualities & versatility. I never turn down a good glass of Champagne!

     

                     Well-aged Pinot Noir, particularly from the great vineyards of Burgundy – My go-to red wine of top quality? Usually a Burgundy from a great producer, vineyard & vintage. There is something about the delicate aromas, flavors & silky/velvety texture of great Burgundy & Pinot Noir that is simply sublime & makes my eyes roll back in pleasure. Do I often choose other great reds? Bordeaux, Rhone, California Cabernet, & others? Of course! Look back at my list of factors that effect my “favorite” of the moment. However, more often than not, if given the choice, I’ll gravitate in this direction.

     

                      For dry white, it’s toss-up between Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blends (or as single varietals) and great Chardonnay. I love white wines that drink like reds. They might be “see-through” wines as I like to call them (whites), but if they have enough body & backbone to stand up to any food, I think of them as drinking like a red. There are a few domestic examples, but my roots always go to France. Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, Semillon/Sauvignon blends from Bordeaux, & Chardonnay from the great vineyards of Burgundy. I like my whites rich, full & luscious…I like them to drink like reds! (yes, sometimes I enjoy a light, bright, refreshing offering, but with a meal I like a wine with backbone).

                     Great Dessert Wine – My preferences are not as well defined with dessert wines as with the drier wines served with most of the meal. The incredible late harvest Rieslings of Germany. Great Sauternes from Bordeaux. Vintage Port. Great Madeira & Sherry. If I had to choose one from this list it’d probably be Riesling, closely followed by Sauternes – but  Dessert more than anything is affected by the food served. Chocolate demands Port. An apple or pear tart, or crème caramel?…why Riesling or Sauternes of course. A quiet respite in front of a roaring fire (with or without food)…Port, Madeira & Sherry all work well.

    That’s about the best I can do in answering the question “What’s your favorite wine?” Actually, I’d like to revise my usual answer. I'll no longer use “The bottle that’s open."

    My answer, from this point forward, will be “The bottle that I’d like to share with you!”

    01/02/2019

    _______________________________________________________________

    Master of Balance - Mitch Cosentino

    Great Wine – the key word is BALANCE

    Great wines all have one thing in common. Balance. Every component in its place, and each complimenting, rather than overpowering the others. Fruit, acid, tannin, alcohol, etc…none so strong that it hides the inner glory that a great wine will exhibit. A master winemaker knows this, and creates wines that will evolve and grow in the bottle, even after the winemaker’s job is done. Most often this requires careful blending, of different barrels, varietals, clones, vineyard locations, etc. What one lot lacks, the other will contribute. This is perhaps the most important thing a winemaker does.

    I grew up on the best that France had to offer. My father introduced me to the great wines of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, and the rest of France. My world view of wines was greatly skewed toward France, and to a lesser extent Italy, Germany, and Spain.

    California wines? In the early 1970’s, I found few that fit the profile that appealed to me. I kept finding big, bold, tannic, overpowering wines (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon) that just didn’t measure up. Many had so much tannin (a false sign of aging potential), that they would never soften before the fruit fell out. My biggest complaint was that they didn’t have the balance, elegance, and finesse of the great wines of Europe. I won’t even speak about the early California efforts at Pinot Noir (there are some exceptions, most notably my friends at Hanzell).

    Many California winemakers fell into an attractive trap. Since most of the great wines of Bordeaux are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, why not use that grape exclusively, and eliminate the “lesser” “blending” grapes (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, & Malbec)? They failed to recognize the complimentary characteristics the other grapes contribute. As a result, many wines were one-dimensional. Big & bold, as is the nature of Cabernet Sauvignon. Often overly tannic. Yes, it is possible to make great single varietal Cabernet, but most benefit from blending, adding complexity, elegance and finesse.

    Cosentino Winery – the birth, the glory days, the demise, and the pretender

    One of my earliest consistent exposures to great, BALANCED California wines came when I met my friend Mitch Cosentino. Around 35 years ago, in the early 1980’s I was the “Import Manager” at a major wholesale wine distributor in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had no responsibility for working with California wines…and really didn’t care. I was required to attend sales meetings and learn about our entire portfolio… but in the field my focus was on our import portfolio.

    In the door walks Mitch, bringing his wines to our portfolio. His personality was immediately engaging, and when I tasted his wines, I was blown away. Here was a small producer, making wines out of Modesto (under the old Crystal Valley Cellars label), and soon to be breaking ground on the then-new Cosentino Winery on Highway 29 in the Napa Valley, near Mustard’s Grill.

    Mitch’s wines had all the qualities I love from my roots in French wine. I soon learned that Mitch liked to make small batch wines, and that he is a master blender. Mitch’s focus is on making hand-crafted wines of great balance. He will tinker with each wine until it is just right, often blending different barrels, clones, varietals, and vineyard sites to make the wine he wants. He loves to emulate (and often match or exceed) the styles of the great wines of France and Italy.

    Yes, Mitch does make some single varietal wines, but even then he leans toward careful & thoughtful blending, picking from different vineyard sites, barrels, and clones to make wines that will exhibit great balance and structure.

    Great things came out of the Cosentino Winery. Mitch was on the board of the original “Meritage Association” (now the Meritage Alliance) that created the “Meritage” name in 1988, and in 1989, the 1986 Cosentino “The Poet” was the first wine to ever bear that designation. Mitch delighted in coming up with new blends, and new names, creating not only the “Poet,” but the “Novelist” (White Meritage/Bordeaux Blanc blend), “MCoz” (another red Meritage that had great critical acclaim), “The Franc” (Cabernet Franc), and others. Many of these wines were/are very highly rated, and if stored well, will age for some time to come.

    Alas, the economy and poor business decisions by corporate partners led to the demise of Cosentino Winery as it was, and it closed its doors in 2010. Another company stepped in and purchased the facility and the Cosentino name, along with most of the “proprietary” wine names like “Poet” & “Novelist.” Mitch won’t admit it publicly, but I suspect that he is grieved by the commercialization of his name, the winery he built, and the wines he created. They aren’t bad wines, they just aren’t up to the standards of a master winemaker.  He will admit nothing more than that they are different, using different fruit, different facilities and different winemakers.

    PureCru – the ReBirth!

    So where does that leave Mitch Cosentino? Enter a new group of friends…wine geeks all…who helped Mitch to create a new label, PureCru, and caught his vision, allowing him the freedom to make great wines again. Together they formed PureCru Winery, releasing their first wines in 2009. With PureCru, Mitch is once again making small batch hand-crafted wines (seldom more than a few hundred cases of each wine). He started with PureCoz, a red Meritage blend, and he was also able to bring MCoz, one of the signature wines from the old Cosentino label into the PureCru fold.

    Since then, Mitch has lined up many of his old vineyard sources, and found some new ones. He now has access to most of the grapes that made the original Cosentino wines great – and they are going into the PureCru selections. With PureCru, Mitch even has the liberty (and integrity) to skip vintages when the crop doesn't measure up to his standards, something very few wineries will do.

    There are some real stars, and some amazing values in the PureCru lineup (see my tasting notes at the end of this article). Most notably, in the value category, are the “Purety” (96 Points – an excellent White Meritage/Bordeaux Blanc blend, primarily from Semillon), and “Sangio Vetta” (96 Points – most easily likened to a “Super Tuscan” Blend, primarily Sangiovese, with some Merlot). The “CFM” (Cabernet Franc/Merlot) (95 Points) is also a standout value, at a slightly higher price point. These wines are all perfectly balanced, and made to age – but because of their balance will drink well immediately. If you want to jump into higher price categories, the wines just keep getting better. These are just some highlights – see my tasting notes at the end of this article, and additional notes on more of the PureCru wines can be found on TastingBook.com.

    But it doesn't end there. Since he only makes small batches under his own label, Mitch has the luxury of time to expand his horizons, and is now consulting winemaker for several other properties. With a selected few owners/properties/labels, Mitch is helping others to make his unique style of wonderfully balanced wines. Mitch has also invited some key producers with similar philosophies to share space in the downtown Napa tasting room he created (known as “Wines on First”). While Mitch’s influence varies on these wines, they are all part of the world of Mitch Cosentino.

    Here are some highlights of Mitch’s PureCru wines, as well as some of the other wines that Mitch has worked on recently (More extensive notes on these and other wines may be available on TastingBook.com):

    PureCru Wines:

    • 96 Points, 2014 PureCru "Purety" (Meritage Blanc). An intriguing blend of approximately equal parts Semillon & Sauvignon Blanc. The nose is instantly appealing, with aromatic figs, apples, quince & a hint of dust and earth. Extremely complex, austere, & rich all at the same time. The palate follows perfectly. Toasty, austere, rich, long. The fruit flavors of fig/apple/quince are balanced to each other, no one overpowering the other. Great depth. Hi acid, but not obtrusive. Very much in the style of the great dry whites of Graves. Drinking well now, but will certainly improve with age. At $25.00 U.S. Retail, one of the best bargains in white wine I’ve found in years. (In a previous note posted on TastingBook.com, I rated this wine with a score of “95”).
    • 95 Points, 2013 PureCru Chardonnay (Meursault Clone). Definitely an “old-world” style Chardonnay. The color is a very pretty straw-bold. The nose has subdued apple & melon fruit, with a toasty/yeasty/bread-toast quality and mixed spices. Very complex. The palate is very rich & mouth-filling, with apples & a hint of dried stone-fruit (peach?), without being overly fruity. The texture is very creamy, with great balance, & a rich, long finish. $32.00 U.S. Retail
    • 96 Points, 2012 PureCru “Sangio Vetta”, Napa Valley. A blend of primarily Sangiovese, with 18% Merlot. The nose is a mix of “road tar”, mixed spices, flowers & plummy fruit. The palate is fully of complex, well-integrated flavors with black cherry, plum & mixed berry fruit. An excellent (and affordable) entry into the non-Tuscan (Napa Valley) “Super-Tuscan” category. Young, powerful, complex, balanced, tasty but age-worthy  –  what more could you ask for in a wine priced at $28.00 U.S. Retail?
    • 92 Points, 2014 PureCru Pinot Noir (Napa-Carneros grapes), A bright light cherry red color. The nose is classic Pinot Noir fruit. Violets, light cherries, earth, mushrooms, and a hint of spice. The palate has the velvety soft Pinot Noir character that so few outside of Burgundy can create. Mouth-filling, round, soft, & long. Quite delicious. At $36.00 U.S. Retail, an excellent value.
    • 95 Points (Potential for 97+ with age), 2011 “CFM”, Napa Valley (Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend). The nose has floral (violet & rose) characters, with clove & other spices. The fruit is a mix of plum & cherry. The palate brings layers & layers of flavors, with hints of cedar and tobacco. Delicious now, should continue to age well. $50.00 U.S. Retail – worth every penny & more!
    • 95 Points (Potential for 98+ with age) 2012 PureCru Cabernet Franc Reserve, Napa Valley. The nose has qualities of vanilla, violets & mixed fruits. Extremely aromatic & perfumed. Quite beautiful. The palate shows great promise. It is still closed, but has lots of character. Deep & long, complex & elegant. Spice & cherries abound. As it softens with some air, it becomes very sexy.  Captivatingly elegant. One of those rare wines that are both powerful and elegant at the same time. If you can get your hands on some bottles, sit on them for a while. Very small production. $65.00 U.S. Retail – again, not inexpensive, but worth the price.
    • 96 Points (potential for 98+ with age), 2012 “PureCoz” (Napa Valley Meritage Rouge). Beautiful medium garnet color. The nose is one of the most elegant & complex I’ve found from the Napa Valley. Spices, hints of anise, clove & green olive, with the unmistakable fruit quality of cassis. Very aromatic, bright & floral. All of that follows onto the palate. Multi-faceted. Very, very delicious. Powerful & elegant. Very long. Not to be missed if you can afford it. $65.00 U.S. Retail, and a bargain at that price.
    • 96 Points (potential for 98+ with age), 2012 PureCru “Secret 7” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Using the “Secret 7” clone of Cabernet Sauvignon (a story for another day), this wine has earthy tar & tobacco notes in the nose, with hints of mint & eucalyptus to compliment the cassis & berry fruit. The flavors on the palate are quite intense, predominated by cassis, with mixed spices. High acid, but soft tannins. Very very long flavorful finish. Tastes like a Meritage blend, but 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. $100.00 U.S. Retail. Worth the price, compared to the great wines of Bordeaux, or some of the over-priced/over-hyped wines of other Napa Valley producers.

    Scotto Family Wines (Mitch Cosentino, Associate Winemaker). Labels include: “Napa by N.A.P.A.”, “J. McClellend,” “Steele Canyon Cellars”, and “50 Harvests” wines. Mitch shares winemaking duties with Mark Smith and Paul Scotto. There are some great surprises, and incredible value, in this lineup.

    • 91 Points “Napa by N.A.P.A.” 2014 “Bianca’s White”, 38% Semillon, 62% Sauvignon Blanc. Delightful bright floral notes to the nose with hints of figs and quince. On the palate there is a sense of mineral/wet stone, with hints of grass and fit. Very dry, clean, and refreshing. Delicious $19.00 U.S. retail – great value!
    • 93 Points, 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay, J. McClelland. Truly beautiful wine. The nose exhibits mixed dry apples & pears, with medium toasty wood and a hint of yeasty bread. The palate is simply OUTSTANDING, with layers & layers of flavors. Excellent acid in the finish carries the flavors through and brings them into focus. Apples, pears, mineral quality. Somewhat angular, in a very appealing way. Mitch Cosentino was not involved in the fermentation of this wine, but made adjustments in the barrel aging & blending. $35.00 U.S. Retail.
    • 93 Points, 2012 J. McClelland Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Oak Knoll District) (86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10& Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot). Classic Napa Cabernet nose, with some Bordeaux-like qualities. Sweet cassis, with hints of cedar and earth waft up from the glass. Similar flavors on the palate. Great acid and balance, with medium soft tannins. Mitch made some major adjustments to this wine, which was started by the previous winemaker. $45.00 U.S. Retail
    • 94 Points, 2012 Napa Valley Charbono, J. McClellend. This was the biggest surprise of the day. An outstanding wine made from an often overlooked grape. The nose and palate are full of grapey plums, hints of anise, smoky wood, dust, and chocolate. Delicious, balanced, long. Medium bodied, not as overpowering as I’d expect from Charbono (that’s a good thing). Mitch did very little with this wine, but he’ll be involved in subsequent vintages. $45.00 U.S. Retail.
    • 97 Points, 2013 “50 Harvests” (another special label from Steele Canyon) (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot). This label was created to commemorate the 50th harvest by the Scotto family. Simply outstanding wine, and an incredible value. First bottled in the vintage of the 50th harvest, it is now made in each vintage that produces the quality required. The current rules? Named after the 50th harvest, only 50 barrels produced, and priced at only $50.00 U.S. retail. The nose & palate are filled with complex aromas and flavors of deep cassis, cigar box, tobacco, smoky wood, earth and leather. Dusty chocolate pops up in the mid palate and finish. Flavors keep unfolding as you hold the wine on your palate, and in the finish. The cassis sweetens in the mid-palate, continuing to the finish. Perfect balance and structure. Very reminiscent of Mitch’s old “Poet” creations from his days at the Cosentino Winery. If you can get some, grab it now, as there is talk of raising the price.

    Secret Rows Ranch

    • 94 Points, 2014 “Secret Rows Ranch” Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley (made by Mitch Cosentino).  Blended with a hint of Semillon, but only enough to add to the complexity without taking away the distinctive Sauvignon qualities of this wine. Very much a Loire Valley style Sauvignon, reminiscent of Sancerre. Intense sweet straw/hay/grass qualities on the nose, with hints of citrus. Absolutely delicious on the palate. The grassy/straw qualities of the nose continue, with hints of pineapple and citrus fruit, finishing with a very dry, austere quality. Absolutely delightful. $35.00 U.S. Retail. 
    Read More
    Close

    My Today

    Having spent most of my career promoting wines for distributors and importing companies, I am now happy to be a "free agent." I have no ties, no obligations to anyone in the industry.

     

    My focus now is primarily to taste, evaluate, and promote the wines of the USA, primarily those of my home in Oregon, as well as California and Washington State. This is a marked departure from most of my career, where my focus was on European (mostly French) wines. I still love (and taste/evaluate) wines from throughout the world. However, I am centrally located in some of the best wine regions of the world. A few hours drive brings me to the Willamette Valley, the Napa Valley, Sonoma, and many other key regions. Right here in Southern Oregon there are some up & coming wineries, particularly doing well with Tempranillo & Syrah, as well as other varieties. About an hour away is the Umpqua Valley, with even more opportunities to taste!

     

    I love finding and promoting the great wines of the world. I also love to find great bargains and bring them to the attention of wine lovers everywhere.

     

    I take careful notes on most of the wines I taste. It is from those notes that I will be writing and posting wine reviews here on tastingbook.com. I am most thankful for a forum such as this, which allows an interchange of opinions about wines, and an opportunity to find professionals you trust to give you real opinions about wines. Without pointing any fingers, I feel that many professional "wine writers," even if unintentionally, show some bias in their writing. Here, we can find opinions that are posted without bias, just for the joy of tasting and sharing opinions. I am happy to share my experience in tasting, and my views of the wines I find with the world!

     

    You may not agree with all of my evaluations (you shouldn't). We were all created with different palates and tastes. I hope you find my evaluations interesting and useful, and that you will sign up to "follow" my journey through the wine world!

    Read More
    Close

    My Tomorrow

    Tomorrow? I'm still working on today. I'll deal with tomorrow when it arrives.

    Read More
    Close

    Pro Me

    While I am mostly retired now, I still do a little consulting and other work with my company "Wine-is-Art," and remain interested in fine food & wine from around the world. I not only attend as many tastings as possible, but organize tastings at my home in Southern Oregon.

     

    I have spent more than 40 years in the wine industry, primarily based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, but traveling much of the world in my studies of fine wine. During my career, I performed many functions. I primarily specialized in European (mostly French) wines. I acted as the Import and Product Manager for a major distributor, Regional Sales Manager for one national importing company, and National Sales manager for another wine importing company. 

     

    I have been responsible for the buying and marketing of wines for several companies. I have acted as a judge at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. I have done consulting for major restaurants in San Francisco and here in Oregon, and I have also consulted on the wine programs for two cruise lines. I have been responsible for the training of staff, as well as wine seminars for passengers aboard three cruise lines. I am now mostly content to sit back, relax, and enjoy my wine.

    Read More
    Close

Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

Fred Gold, Wine Writer (United States)  had a Half-Blind tasting of  14 Wines  from  13 Producers 

Tasting of Pinot Noir (Oregon, California, New Zealand, France). At Peter Adesman's home 16 March 2017

3y 6m ago

Fred Gold, Wine Writer (United States)  had a wine moment

“Master of Balance
Mitch Cosentino

Great Wine – the key word is BALANCE

Great wines all have one thing in common. Balance. Every component in its place, and each complimenting, rather than overpowering the others. Fruit, acid, tannin, alcohol, etc…none so strong that it hides the inner glory that a great wine will exhibit. A master winemaker knows this, and creates wines that will evolve and grow in the bottle, even after the winemaker’s job is done. Most often this requires careful blending, of different barrels, varietals, clones, vineyard locations, etc. What one lot lacks, the other will contribute. This is perhaps the most important thing a winemaker does.

I grew up on the best that France had to offer. My father introduced me to the great wines of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, and the rest of France. My world view of wines was greatly skewed toward France, and to a lesser extent Italy, Germany, and Spain.

California wines? In the early 1970’s, I found few that fit the profile that appealed to me. I kept finding big, bold, tannic, overpowering wines (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon) that just didn’t measure up. Many had so much tannin (a false sign of aging potential), that they would never soften before the fruit fell out. My biggest complaint was that they didn’t have the balance, elegance, and finesse of the great wines of Europe. I won’t even speak about the early California efforts at Pinot Noir (there are some exceptions, most notably my friends at Hanzell).

Many California winemakers fell into an attractive trap. Since most of the great wines of Bordeaux are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, why not use that grape exclusively, and eliminate the “lesser” “blending” grapes (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, & Malbec)? They failed to recognize the complimentary characteristics the other grapes contribute. As a result, many wines were one-dimensional. Big & bold, as is the nature of Cabernet Sauvignon. Often overly tannic. Yes, it is possible to make great single varietal Cabernet, but most benefit from blending, adding complexity, elegance and finesse.

COSENTINOWINERY – the birth, the glory days, the demise, and the pretender

One of my earliest consistent exposures to great, BALANCED California wines came when I met my friend Mitch Cosentino. Around 35 years ago, in the early 1980’s I was the “Import Manager” at a major wholesale wine distributor in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had no responsibility for working with California wines…and really didn’t care. I was required to attend sales meetings and learn about our entire portfolio… but in the field my focus was on our import portfolio.

In the door walks Mitch, bringing his wines to our portfolio. His personality was immediately engaging, and when I tasted his wines, I was blown away. Here was a small producer, making wines out of Modesto (under the old Crystal Valley Cellars label), and soon to be breaking ground on the then-new Cosentino Winery on Highway 29 in the Napa Valley, near Mustard’s Grill.

Mitch’s wines had all the qualities I love from my roots in French wine. I soon learned that Mitch liked to make small batch wines, and that he is a master blender. Mitch’s focus is on making hand-crafted wines of great balance. He will tinker with each wine until it is just right, often blending different barrels, clones, varietals, and vineyard sites to make the wine he wants. He loves to emulate (and often match or exceed) the styles of the great wines of France and Italy.

Yes, Mitch does make some single varietal wines, but even then he leans toward careful & thoughtful blending, picking from different vineyard sites, barrels, and clones to make wines that will exhibit great balance and structure.

Great things came out of the Cosentino Winery. Mitch was on the board of the original “Meritage Association” (now the Meritage Alliance) that created the “Meritage” name in 1988, and in 1989, the 1986 Cosentino “The Poet” was the first wine to ever bear that designation. Mitch delighted in coming up with new blends, and new names, creating not only the “Poet,” but the “Novelist” (White Meritage/Bordeaux Blanc blend), “MCoz” (another red Meritage that had great critical acclaim), “The Franc” (Cabernet Franc), and others. Many of these wines were/are very highly rated, and if stored well, will age for some time to come.

Alas, the economy and poor business decisions by corporate partners led to the demise of Cosentino Winery as it was, and it closed its doors in 2010. Another company stepped in and purchased the facility and the Cosentino name, along with most of the “proprietary” wine names like “Poet” & “Novelist.” Mitch won’t admit it publicly, but I suspect that he is grieved by the commercialization of his name, the winery he built, and the wines he created. They aren’t bad wines, they just aren’t up to the standards of a master winemaker. He will admit nothing more than that they are different, using different fruit, different facilities and different winemakers.

PureCru – the ReBirth!

So where does that leave Mitch Cosentino? Enter a new group of friends…wine geeks all…who helped Mitch to create a new label, PureCru, and caught his vision, allowing him the freedom to make great wines again. Together they formed PureCru Winery, releasing their first wines in 2009. With PureCru, Mitch is once again making small batch hand-crafted wines (seldom more than a few hundred cases of each wine). He started with PureCoz, a red Meritage blend, and he was also able to bring MCoz, one of the signature wines from the old Cosentino label into the PureCru fold.

Since then, Mitch has lined up many of his old vineyard sources, and found some new ones. He now has access to most of the grapes that made the original Cosentino wines great – and they are going into the PureCru selections. With PureCru, Mitch even has the liberty (and integrity) to skip vintages when the crop doesn’t measure up to his standards, something very few wineries will do.

There are some real stars, and some amazing values in the PureCru lineup (see my tasting notes at the end of this article). Most notably, in the value category, are the “Purety” (96 Points – an excellent White Meritage/Bordeaux Blanc blend, primarily from Semillon), and “Sangio Vetta” (96 Points – most easily likened to a “Super Tuscan” Blend, primarily Sangiovese, with some Merlot). The “CFM” (Cabernet Franc/Merlot) (95 Points) is also a standout value, at a slightly higher price point. These wines are all perfectly balanced, and made to age – but because of their balance will drink well immediately. If you want to jump into higher price categories, the wines just keep getting better. These are just some highlights – see my tasting notes at the end of this article, and additional notes on more of the PureCru wines can be found on TastingBook.com.

But it doesn’t end there. Since he only makes small batches under his own label, Mitch has the luxury of time to expand his horizons, and is now consulting winemaker for several other properties. With a selected few owners/properties/labels, Mitch is helping others to make his unique style of wonderfully balanced wines. Mitch has also invited some key producers with similar philosophies to share space in the downtown Napa tasting room he created (known as “Wines on First”). While Mitch’s influence varies on these wines, they are all part of the world of Mitch Cosentino.

Here are some highlights of Mitch’s PureCru wines, as well as some of the other wines that Mitch has worked on recently (More extensive notes on these and other wines may be available on TastingBook.com):

• PureCru Wines
• 96 Points, 2014 PureCru “Purety” (Meritage Blanc) An intriguing blend of approximately equal parts Semillon & Sauvignon Blanc. The nose is instantly appealing, with aromatic figs, apples, quince & a hint of dust and earth. Extremely complex, austere, & rich all at the same time. The palate follows perfectly. Toasty, austere, rich, long. The fruit flavors of fig/apple/quince are balanced to each other, no one overpowering the other. Great depth. Hi acid, but not obtrusive. Very much in the style of the great dry whites of Graves. Drinking well now, but will certainly improve with age. At $25.00 U.S. Retail, one of the best bargains in white wine I’ve found in years. (In a previous note posted on TastingBook.com, I rated this wine with a score of “95”).
• 95 Points, 2013 PureCru Chardonnay (Meursault Clone), Definitely an “old-world” style Chardonnay. The color is a very pretty straw-bold. The nose has subdued apple & melon fruit, with a toasty/yeasty/bread-toast quality and mixed spices. Very complex. The palate is very rich & mouth-filling, with apples & a hint of dried stone-fruit (peach?), without being overly fruity. The texture is very creamy, with great balance, & a rich, long finish. $32.00 U.S. Retail
• 96 Points, 2012 PureCru “Sangio Vetta”, Napa Valley. A blend of primarily Sangiovese, with 18% Merlot. The nose is a mix of “road tar”, mixed spices, flowers & plummy fruit. The palate is fully of complex, well-integrated flavors with black cherry, plum & mixed berry fruit. An excellent (and affordable) entry into the non-Tuscan (Napa Valley) “Super-Tuscan” category. Young, powerful, complex, balanced, tasty but age-worthy – what more could you ask for in a wine priced at $28.00 U.S. Retail?
• 92 Points, 2014 PureCru Pinot Noir (Napa-Carneros grapes) A bright light cherry red color. The nose is classic Pinot Noir fruit. Violets, light cherries, earth, mushrooms, and a hint of spice. The palate has the velvety soft Pinot Noir character that so few outside of Burgundy can create. Mouth-filling, round, soft, & long. Quite delicious. At $36.00 U.S. Retail, an excellent value.
• 95 Points (Potential for 97+ with age), 2011 “CFM”, Napa Valley (Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend). The nose has floral (violet & rose) characters, with clove & other spices. The fruit is a mix of plum & cherry. The palate brings layers & layers of flavors, with hints of cedar and tobacco. Delicious now, should continue to age well. $50.00 U.S. Retail – worth every penny & more!
• 95 Points (Potential for 98+ with age) 2012 PureCru Cabernet Franc Reserve, Napa Valley. The nose has qualities of vanilla, violets & mixed fruits. Extremely aromatic & perfumed. Quite beautiful. The palate shows great promise. It is still closed, but has lots of character. Deep & long, complex & elegant. Spice & cherries abound. As it softens with some air, it becomes very sexy. Captivatingly elegant. One of those rare wines that are both powerful and elegant at the same time. If you can get your hands on some bottles, sit on them for a while. Very small production. $65.00 U.S. Retail – again, not inexpensive, but worth the price.
• 96 Points (potential for 98+ with age), 2012 “PureCoz” (Napa Valley Meritage Rouge). Beautiful medium garnet color. The nose is one of the most elegant & complex I’ve found from the Napa Valley. Spices, hints of anise, clove & green olive, with the unmistakable fruit quality of cassis. Very aromatic, bright & floral. All of that follows onto the palate. Multi-faceted. Very, very delicious. Powerful & elegant. Very long. Not to be missed if you can afford it. $65.00 U.S. Retail, and a bargain at that price.
• 96 Points (potential for 98+ with age), 2012 PureCru “Secret 7” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Using the “Secret 7” clone of Cabernet Sauvignon (a story for another day), this wine has earthy tar & tobacco notes in the nose, with hints of mint & eucalyptus to compliment the cassis & berry fruit. The flavors on the palate are quite intense, predominated by cassis, with mixed spices. High acid, but soft tannins. Very very long flavorful finish. Tastes like a Meritage blend, but 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. $100.00 U.S. Retail. Worth the price, compared to the great wines of Bordeaux, or some of the over-priced/over-hyped wines of other Napa Valley producers.

“Napa by N.A.P.A.”, “J. McClellend,” “Steele Canyon Cellars”, and “50 Harvests” wines (all from the Scotto family and Steele Canyon Cellars). Mitch shares winemaking duties with Mark Smith and Paul Scotto. There are some great surprises, and incredible value, in this lineup.
• 91 Points “Napa by N.A.P.A.” 2014 “Bianca’s White”, 38% Semillon, 62% Sauvignon Blanc. Delightful bright floral notes to the nose with hints of figs and quince. On the palate there is a sense of mineral/wet stone, with hints of grass and fit. Very dry, clean, and refreshing. Delicious $19.00 U.S. retail – great value!
• 93 Points, 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay, J. McClelland. Truly beautiful wine. The nose exhibits mixed dry apples & pears, with medium toasty wood and a hint of yeasty bread. The palate is simply OUTSTANDING, with layers & layers of flavors. Excellent acid in the finish carries the flavors through and brings them into focus. Apples, pears, mineral quality. Somewhat angular, in a very appealing way. Mitch Cosentino was not involved in the fermentation of this wine, but made adjustments in the barrel aging & blending. $35.00 U.S. Retail.
• 93 Points, 2012 J. McClelland Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Oak Knoll District) (86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10& Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot). Classic Napa Cabernet nose, with some Bordeaux-like qualities. Sweet cassis, with hints of cedar and earth waft up from the glass. Similar flavors on the palate. Great acid and balance, with medium soft tannins. Mitch made some major adjustments to this wine, which was started by the previous winemaker. $45.00 U.S. Retail
• 94 Points, 2012 Napa Valley Charbono, J. McClellend. This was the biggest surprise of the day. An outstanding wine made from an often overlooked grape. The nose and palate are full of grapey plums, hints of anise, smoky wood, dust, and chocolate. Delicious, balanced, long. Medium bodied, not as overpowering as I’d expect from Charbono (that’s a good thing). Mitch did very little with this wine, but he’ll be involved in subsequent vintages. $45.00 U.S. Retail
• 97 Points, 2013 “50 Harvests” (another special label from Steele Canyon) (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot). This label was created to commemorate the 50th harvest by the Scotto family. Simply outstanding wine, and an incredible value. First bottled in the vintage of the 50th harvest, it is now made in each vintage that produces the quality required. The current rules? Named after the 50th harvest, only 50 barrels produced, and priced at only $50.00 U.S. retail. The nose & palate are filled with complex aromas and flavors of deep cassis, cigar box, tobacco, smoky wood, earth and leather. Dusty chocolate pops up in the mid palate and finish. Flavors keep unfolding as you hold the wine on your palate, and in the finish. The cassis sweetens in the mid-palate, continuing to the finish. Perfect balance and structure. Very reminiscent of Mitch’s old “Poet” creations from his days at the Cosentino Winery. If you can get some, grab it now, as there is talk of raising the price.

Secret Rows Ranch
• 94 Points, 2014 “Secret Rows Ranch” Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley (made by Mitch Cosentino). Blended with a hint of Semillon, but only enough to add to the complexity without taking away the distinctive Sauvignon qualities of this wine. Very much a Loire Valley style Sauvignon, reminiscent of Sancerre. Intense bright sweet straw/hay/grass qualities on the nose, with hints of citrus. Absolutely delicious on the palate. The grassy/straw qualities of the nose continue, with hints of pineapple and citrus fruit, finishing with a very dry, austere quality. Absolutely delightful. $35.00 U.S. Retail.

3y 10m ago

1 People

Fred Gold, Wine Writer (United States)  had a tasting of  13 Wines  from  5 Producers 

An educational and tasting trip through the Napa Valley last June (2016) with Mitch Cosentino. Tastings of wines he either made or had an influence over from his own winery, PureCru, and also including selections from J. McClellend Cellars, Napa by N.A.P.A., Steele Canyon Cellars and Secret Rows Ranch.

3y 10m ago

Fred Gold, Wine Writer (United States)  had a Half-Blind tasting of  16 Wines  from  8 Producers 

A group of “mini-verticals.” Each flight presented two vintages of the same wine. The new (current) vintage was presented with the label showing. The older vintage was presented blind (half-blind tasting). Tasted 20 April 2017 at Peter Adesman's home.

3y 11m ago

Fred Gold, Wine Writer (United States)  had a Half-Blind tasting of  65 Wines  from  55 Producers 

In recent months I have been negligent in my posting of wine notes, as I was busy with other projects. No worries - I've still been tasting & taking notes. This is an accumulation of notes on the best of what I've tasted over the past six months or so. Most were tasted "half-blind" in groups of wines of similar type, price & pedigree. A large portion were tasted in a group at the home of my friend & fellow lover of fine wines, Dr. Peter Adesman.

3y 11m ago

Dom Pérignon 1995, Moët & Chandon
Le Corton Grand Cru 2009, Bouchard Père & Fils
Chateau Leoville-Barton 2012, Château Leoville-Barton
S.L.V Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1976, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Stag's Leap FAY Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Château Raymond-Lafon 1980, Château Raymond-Lafon
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 1988, Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey
Vintage Port 1994, Graham's
Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese 2004, Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff
Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese 2004, Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff
Riesling Auslese 2002, Weingut Gunderloch
Kiedricher GräfenBerg Auslese 2003, Weingut Robert Weil
Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Clos du Val
Les Pavot 2013, Peter Michael Winery
Larkmead Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, Ramey Wine Cellars
Beaulieu Georges de Latour Private Reserve 2013, Beaulieu Vineyards
"Fidele" Champagne NV (10's), Vouette et Sorbée
Barolo Brunate 2008, Francesco Rinaldi & Figli
Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese 2002, Joh.Jos.Christoffel Erben
Erdener Treppchen Spatlese 2002, Joh.Jos.Christoffel Erben
Clos Jebsal "Selection de Grans Nobles" 1998, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht
Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2012, Freemark Abbey
Saffredi (Super-Tuscan) 2013, Fattoria le Pupille
Quarts de Chaume 2005, Domaine des Baumard
Cornas 1999, Domaine Noël Verset
Pinot Noir “Canary Hill Vineyard 2014, Ken Wright Cellars
Pinot Noir "Canary Hill Vineyard" 2002, Ken Wright Cellars
Pinot Noir "Carter Vineyard" 2014, Ken Wright Cellars
Pinot Noir "Horseshoe Vineyard" 2013, Rhys Vineyards
Pinot Noir 2014, PureCru
Pinot Noir "Justice Vineyard" 2014, Bethel Heights Vineyard
Pinot Noir “Carter Vineyard” 2014, Cristom Vineyards
Pinot Noir "Canary Hill Vineyard" 2014, Cristom Vineyards
Pinot Noir “Mount Richmond Vineyard” 2014, Elk Cove
Misceo 2012, Folin Cellars
Pinot Noir "Cedar Ranch" 2014, Foris
Pirouette 2013, Long Shadows
Cote-Rotie "Cote Rozier" 2005, Earl Pierre Gaillard
Cotes-du-Rhone 2015, Saint Cosme
Coteso-du-Rhone "Le Deux Albion" 2014, Saint Cosme
“Danseur” Syrah 2013, DANCIN Vineyards
Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2012, Domaine Berthet-Rayne
Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2015, Domaine Berthet-Rayne
Savigny les Beaune 1er Cru “Dominodes” 2009, Domaine Pavelot
Rully 1er Cru 2013, Celine et Vincent Dureuil
Pinot Noir 2014, Diamondback Vineyards
Pinot Noir “Palo Seco Vineyard” 2014, Laurel Ridge
Barolo 2001, Josetta Saffirio
Cabernet Sauvignon “G3 Vineyard” 2013, Jean Edwards Cellars
Cabernet Sauvignon "74-41" 2013, Jean Edwards Cellars
Cabernet Sauvignon "74-41" 2012, Jean Edwards Cellars
Bandol 1990, Domaine Tempier
"Panoramic" Idaho Riesling Ice Wine 2010, Ste. Chapelle
Vouvray "Cuvee CC" 1997, Domaine Champalou
Pinot Noir 2012, A to Z WineWorks
Pinot Noir 2014, The Four Graces
Sancerre "Clos de Beaujeu" 2008, Domaine Gérard Boulay
Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Trouchard Vineyards
il fauno di Arcanum 2013, Arcanum
Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvée des Félix 1998, Domaine Bois de Boursan
Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2014, Crous St Martin
Syrah 2013, Plaisance Ranch
Syrah “Masada Bloc” 2013, Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards
Syrah 2012, Merlo Family Estate Vineyards
Cotes-du-Rhone Villages 2015, Kirkland
Vouette et Sorbée, Champagne, France
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Napa Valley, United States
Jean Edwards Cellars, California, United States
Trouchard Vineyards, Napa Valley, United States
Laurel Ridge, Oregon , United States
Josetta Saffirio, Piedmont, Italy
Diamondback Vineyards, California, United States
Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff, Nahe, Germany
Ken Wright Cellars, Oregon, United States
Plaisance Ranch, Oregon, United States
Domaine Gérard Boulay, Loire Valley, France
Arcanum, Tuscany, Italy
Domaine Bois de Boursan, Rhone Valley, France
Bethel Heights Vineyard, Oregon, United States
Celine et Vincent Dureuil, Burgundy, France
Domaine Champalou, Loire Valley, France
Domaine Tempier, Provence, France
DANCIN Vineyards, Oregon, United States
Weingut Gunderloch, Rheinhessen, Germany
Ste. Chapelle, Idaho, United States
A to Z WineWorks, Oregon, United States
The Four Graces, Oregon, United States
Elk Cove, Oregon, United States
Long Shadows, Washington State, United States
Merlo Family Estate Vineyards, California, United States
Crous St Martin, Rhone Valley, France
Kirkland, Rhone Valley, France
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Alsace, France
Rhys Vineyards, California, United States
Château Raymond-Lafon, Bordeaux, France
Domaine Berthet-Rayne, Rhône, France
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Bordeaux, France
Joh.Jos.Christoffel Erben, Mosel, Germany
Earl Pierre Gaillard, Rhone Valley, France
Saint Cosme, Rhone Valley, France
Château Leoville-Barton, Bordeaux, France
Folin Cellars, Oregon, United States
Foris, Oregon, United States
Graham's, Douro, Portugal
Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards, Oregon, United States
Domaine Noël Verset, Rhône, France
Domaine Pavelot, Burgundy, France
Moët & Chandon, Champagne, France
Francesco Rinaldi & Figli, Piedmont, Italy
Weingut Robert Weil, Rheingau, Germany
Cristom Vineyards, Oregon, United States
Peter Michael Winery, Sonoma Valley, United States
PureCru, California, United States
Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley, United States
Domaine des Baumard, Loire, France
Beaulieu Vineyards, Napa Valley, United States
Clos du Val, Napa Valley, United States
Fattoria le Pupille, Tuscany, Italy
Bouchard Père & Fils, Burgundy, France
Ramey Wine Cellars, Sonoma Valley, United States

Fred Gold, Wine Writer (United States)  had a Half-Blind tasting of  15 Wines  from  14 Producers 

"Syrahs from around the world (plus a few other wines). Monthly tasting at my friend Peter Adesman's home. Approximately 30 people in attendance. Half-Blind (we knew they were Syrahs)"

4y 10m ago

Fred Gold, Wine Writer (United States)  had a tasting of  4 Wines  from  1 Producers 

"Hosted by Jeffrey, son of owners Jon & Kathy Lauer ("Jeffrey's Block Vineyard is named after Jeffrey, as "Krista's Block" is named after his sister). Attended without an appointment with my daughter, Jessica Gold. After appointments at Bethel Heights & St Innocent, we were looking for something other than Pinot Noir. The folks at our two previous tops indicated that Bryn Mawr made a good Tempranillo, so we decided to check it out. The Tempranillo was quite good, the best wine here, but surprise, surprise, the best VALUE here was another...yes...Pinot Noir!"

4y 11m ago

Fred Gold, Wine Writer (United States)  had a Blind tasting of  15 Wines  from  14 Producers 

"Excellent tasting @ Peter Adesman's home. Mostly Pinot Noir from Oregon (with a few "ringers" from California & Burgundy)...followed by some wonderful German Riesling Auslese wines at the end."

5y 17d ago

HOW TO USE TASTINGBOOK?

We recommend you to share few minutes for watching the following video instructions of how to use the Tastingbook. This can provide you a comprehensive understanding of all the features you can find from this unique service platform.

This video will help you get started



Taste wines with the Tastingbook


Create Your wine cellar on 'My Wines'



Explore Your tasted wines library



Administrate Your wine world in Your Profile



Type a message ...
Register to Tastingbook
Register now, it's fast, easy and totally free. No commitments, only enjoyments.
  Register