Wine of the week: Marietta Cellars Christo Lot Number 2

Christo Lot No. 2 is a boisterous and edgy Rhone blend with concentrated fruit and snappy spice.|

Scot Bilbro sometimes feels like he’s suffering from writer’s block.

“I love the range of possibilities (in winemaking), but it can also be terrifying,” he said.

Bilbro is the winemaker behind our wine-of-the-week winner, Christo, NV Lot No. #2 by Marietta Cellars, 15.3 percent, $20.

This Rhone blend is boisterous and edgy. It’s full-bodied with concentrated fruit and snappy spice. Rich, yet balanced, it’s well-crafted. A steal at this price point.

The wine is named after Bilbro’s father, Chris Bilbro. He was raised by his great aunt Marietta, who called him Christo.

Bilbro said Rhone red blends are his favorite style of wine, even though they are often misunderstood by the uninitiated.

“Red blends sometimes have a bad connotation as wines made in huge volume by tossing leftover bulk wines together,” he said. “While this is true in some instances, there are many other types of blends that may get overlooked because they are lumped into that category.

“Some of the least expensive wines in the world are blends, and some of the most expensive and greatest wines in the world are blends. I don’t think the distinction is always clear to the consumer.”

Bilbro said he learned how to make blends from his father, who created the flagship red in the early 1980s at the family’s Geyserville winery, Marietta Cellars.

“He began making it before red blends were really a known commodity,” Bilbro explained. “His willingness to buck the standard wisdom and go out on a limb in order to make what he enjoyed has always inspired me.

“I learned from him how to work with the flavors and textures from multiple years and try to combine them in a way to get a better wine. Without his example and the experience I have gained through working with him, I would have never felt comfortable launching a product like Christo.”

Bilbro, 35, studied at UC Davis, and majored in viticulture and enology. He graduated in 2007. Bilbro was raised in Healdsburg and Geyserville, and he’s a fourth-generation Sonoma County winemaker.

“I get a huge kick out of creating things as a winemaker,” he said.

“This job has a wonderful seasonality, and there is always a new challenge. Best of all, it is a great way to appreciate the different times of year and where you live.”

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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