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Wine of the week: the Joel Gott 815, 2018 California Cabernet Sauvignon

This week’s blind tasting

Joel Gott 815, 2018 California Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.9%, $18, 4 stars. This medium-body, approachable cabernet has aromas and flavors of black cherry and black raspberry, with a kiss of caramel on the finish. Balanced, it has bright acid and nice length. This solid, budget-savvy cabernet edged out other contenders because it over-delivers in a big way for the price.

Corner 103, 2018 Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 15%, $60, 4.5 stars. Weighted to red fruit, this cab has lovely notes of cherry, currant and pomegranate. It’s lightly toasted, with herbs in the mix. Balanced, it has crisp acid and nice length. Elegant.

Flora Springs, 2018 Napa Valley Estate, Oakville/Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.2%, $50, 4.5 stars. A classic, this cabernet has layers of black cherry, plum and currant and a kiss of vanilla. With firm tannins and bright acid, it’s striking.

Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2016 Reserve, Alexander Valley Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, 15.2%, $55, 4.5 stars. This cab has good structure, but it’s most impressive because of its intensity. Layered with notes of cassis, currant and herbs, it also has a rich complexity.

J. Lohr, 2017 Carol’s Vineyard, St. Helena, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.9%, $60, 4 stars. This cab has rich flavors of black cherry, plum and anise. It has a supple texture and a lingering finish. A feminine, pretty cab.

Joel Gott aims to make impressive wines that won’t give wine-lovers sticker shock.

“Our goal is to always make wines that over-deliver at their price point,” the winemaker said. “We may not always get credit for the quality of grapes we put in the bottle, but it’s the wines we want to make and drink.”

Gott is behind our wine of the week winner, the Joel Gott 815, 2018 California Cabernet Sauvignon at $18. This medium-body, approachable cabernet has aromas and flavors of black cherry and black raspberry, with a kiss of caramel on the finish. Balanced, it has bright acid and nice length. This solid, budget-savvy cabernet edged out other contenders because of the caliber of this cab for the price.

Other tasty cabs include: Corner 103, 2018 Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 15%, $60; Flora Springs, 2018 Napa Valley Estate, Oakville/Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.2%, $50; J. Lohr, 2017 Carol’s Vineyard, St. Helena, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.9%, $60; and Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2016 Reserve, Alexander Valley Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, 15.2%, $55.

As for the Gott cabernet, the winemaker said it benefits from its range of fruit; it’s sourced from growing regions across the state of California.

“It allows us to create a more complex blend by working with fruit as far north as Mendocino and Lake County, Napa and Sonoma and as far south as Santa Ynez Valley,” Gott said. “I find that diversity adds up to a wine that consistently delivers in terms of fruit profile, approachable tannins and complexity.”

Gott debuted his label with the 1996 release of its Amador County Zinfandel, a joint effort with his wife, Sarah Gott. They expanded the brand with other varietals, then Joel Gott Wines partnered with Trinchero Family Estates in 2009.

“My name is on the bottle,” the winemaker said, “but it’s a group of hardworking, talented folks that bring these wines to life.”

Gott, 50, was born in Napa Valley and raised in the Sierra Foothills where his parents started Montevina Winery. He later moved to Carmel and after graduating high school, went to work for Sonoma County’s Kenwood Winery.

“I didn’t go to college,” Gott said. “Working at the winery was my crash course in winemaking and viticulture. I learned so much from (the late winemaker) Mike Lee, and that experience was an awesome foundation for everything that followed.”

Today, Gott has an empire of sorts. Besides his Joel Gott Wine label, he’s the entrepreneur behind the Gott’s Roadside restaurant chain, with seven locations in the San Francisco Bay area. In addition, he and his team initiated Gott for Good in 2019, a philanthropic program in partnership with Feeding America.

“This giving initiative is a natural extension of the work that we do for our wine brand as well as Gott’s restaurants, both ventures which bring friends and families together around a table,” Gott said.

This year, Gott for Good is helping to provide 2.5 million meals, building on 1.5 million in 2020 and 600,000 in 2019.

“We’re proud of being able to do something that helps people, particularly at a time when we see so many folks in the country dealing with food insecurity,” Gott said. “It’s an honor to partner with an organization that does so much to address hunger, both nationally and regionally.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

This week’s blind tasting

Joel Gott 815, 2018 California Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.9%, $18, 4 stars. This medium-body, approachable cabernet has aromas and flavors of black cherry and black raspberry, with a kiss of caramel on the finish. Balanced, it has bright acid and nice length. This solid, budget-savvy cabernet edged out other contenders because it over-delivers in a big way for the price.

Corner 103, 2018 Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 15%, $60, 4.5 stars. Weighted to red fruit, this cab has lovely notes of cherry, currant and pomegranate. It’s lightly toasted, with herbs in the mix. Balanced, it has crisp acid and nice length. Elegant.

Flora Springs, 2018 Napa Valley Estate, Oakville/Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.2%, $50, 4.5 stars. A classic, this cabernet has layers of black cherry, plum and currant and a kiss of vanilla. With firm tannins and bright acid, it’s striking.

Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2016 Reserve, Alexander Valley Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, 15.2%, $55, 4.5 stars. This cab has good structure, but it’s most impressive because of its intensity. Layered with notes of cassis, currant and herbs, it also has a rich complexity.

J. Lohr, 2017 Carol’s Vineyard, St. Helena, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.9%, $60, 4 stars. This cab has rich flavors of black cherry, plum and anise. It has a supple texture and a lingering finish. A feminine, pretty cab.

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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