2003 Galante Red Rose Hill Cabernet


"Never follow good wine with water...unless you're out of good wine." Jack Galante's cowboy philosophy says a lot about this winery's laid back approach. But don't confuse laid back with lackadaisical.

Rancho Galante, named after the Galante family's 700 acre cattle ranch in the Carmel Valley, has been making wine exclusively from estate fruit for about 15 years. Specializing primarily in Cabernet, which Galante bottles several versions of, the winery also produces limited quantities of Pinot, Petit Verdot, and Petit Sirah. And quality is a common thread throughout.

The Red Rose Hill is yet another example of how lesser-known AVA's are quietly producing attention-commanding wine with unique character.

The solid core of dark fruit delivers backbone with restraint and tannins so perfectly integrated you'd have to think about what you're drinking to identify them. Which is hard, because this wine has an unexpected surprise that vault this wine into its own league: an almost floral flavor component.

No doubt this is a reflection of the vineyard site as this wine is unquestionably Cabernet (100%, in fact), but the aromatics of this wine bring high end Barolo to mind - if only briefly. The mouthfeel shouts refinement - a feat considering the wine's age and that it is neither fined or filtered.

This is a very, very good wine that is drinking very well right now.

But how hard is it to put your hands on a six year old single vineyard Cab? Not too hard as it turns out.

We originally discovered this wine on a 2007 visit to their cozy tasting room nestled in the tiny burg of Carmel By The Sea. A half bottle of this same vintage sat in the Winethropology cellar for two and a half years before recently being uncorked. The excitement was enough to place a call to the winery the next day to determine whether they, by chance, had any more of the 2003.

A week later UPS delivered a half case. We paid $30 per bottle and consider this to be a fair price. In fact, considering that the 07 vintage is selling for $35 a bottle, it's a deal.

Update: We received word from the winery that they are now totally sold out at the winery, except for a small library collection. Stay tuned for a review of the 2007 vintage of this same wine.

Rating: Damn! Special, attention-getting, get some if you can.

In response to this review, Jack Galante, President of Galante Vineyards wrote this:
Thanks so much for reviewing our 2003 Red Rose Hill. I think you hit the nail right on the head with your description. The 2003 was the last year that we made our Red Rose hill out of 100% Cabernet grapes. Since then we are using 8% Malbec, 8% Merlot and 8% Petite Syrah in the blend and it really has been exceptional. Our current release is the 2007 and I would be happy to send you a sample if you would like. Just let me know where to send it. Everything is correct regarding your description except the availability. We are totally sold out at the winery, except for a small library collection.

Please let me know if you need anything from me and, again, thanks for your writing.

That is a damn fine wine and a pleasure to review, Jack