Every once in a while, I encounter a winery, a person, a little-known region that I can’t get out of my head. That happened a few weeks ago when I discovered the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Alma de Cattleya.
Some of California’s best value wines
If you thought it wasn’t possible to buy a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir for under $30, think again. And not only can you buy this wine for under $30, it’s a $28 bottle of wine you’re going to want to purchase over and over again! And then there’s the Chardonnay from Alma de Cattleya. This is the best $24 bottle of Chard made from Russian River and Sonoma Coast fruit you’re going to find. (And I haven’t even gotten to the rosé, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet. More on those later…)
What makes Bibiana Gonzáles Rave a great winemaker?
If, like me, you’re wondering how these wonderful wines could exist, the answer lies in three simple words: Bibiana Gonzáles Rave. At age 37, Rave was named the San Francisco Chronicle Winemaker of the Year. That was in 2015. But instead of resting on her previous achievements, the recognition seemed to inspire Rave to greater heights.
A native of Columbia, she named her winery Cattleya, after the Columbian national flower. Alma de Cattleya is her second label, the affordable wines. (But the magic of Alma de Cattleya is that these wines don’t taste like a second label.) That’s because Rave pours her attention into each and every row of vines that goes into every one of her wines.
And when you taste these wines, it feels like she poured her soul into every bottle. To say that she’s detail oriented would be an understatement. But it is a window into how this winemaking dynamo can create some of the best value wines in Napa and Sonoma.
I’ve provided tasting notes for all the current release wines. I think they’re all elegant wines for the price. But it’s the Pinot Noir and the Alma de Cattleya Chardonnay with which I’m most taken. These are the two that, should you find them for sale, you should not miss the opportunity to buy.
For more information on Alma de Cattleya, visit https://adcwines.com/.
My Alma de Cattleya wine recommendations
2018 Alma de Cattleya Rosé of Pinot Noir
Made in the traditional, Provencal method, this refreshing rosé offers the floral and berry notes you would expect from a California rosé. But it also shows a coastal influence with a hint of salinity and sunshine on both the nose and palate.
2018 Alma de Cattleya Sauvignon Blanc
At $20 a bottle, I wouldn’t call this wine as much of a fabulous buy as some of Rave’s other wines. But is it a wine you’re going to want to drink? Absolutely! It offers freshness and citrus bite, yet its acidity seems restrained, feminine. And the finish? If you like a wine that lingers, this is your kind of Sauvignon Blanc.
2016 Alma de Cattleya Chardonnay
The first word that comes to mind when I taste this Chardonnay is balance. It’s a nicely balanced, medium-bodied wine with a texture that glides across the tongue. It offers lush tropical fruits on both the nose and palate and an almost imperceptible hint of toffee on the finish.
2017 Alma de Cattleya Pinot Noir
If you want to experience all the best attributes of Sonoma County Pinot Noir without having to smash your piggy bank, you need this wine. Gorgeous berries and vanilla are prominent on the nose. In the mouth, you get those ripe berry flavors up front. But toward the back of the palate it offers sexy, earthy notes of a damp forest floor.
2016 Alma de Cattleya Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine, made with 100% Cabernet, is from Napa Valley fruit. It offers dark fruit aromas with a hint of vegetal character. Its tannins, although prominent, have a velvety texture. Dark fruits, including black raspberry and black currant dominate on the palate with a teasing hint of caramel on the finish.
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