Frei Brothers Duo: Restrained Power

A press release that accompanied these samples extolled the virtues that each of Gallo's labels possesses. The idea is that every label had one particular wine they're known for.  MacMurray's got Pinot Noir, Frei Brothers has Chard and so on. Can't say that I agree completely with that last one - not because these two wines (pictured below) aren't noteworthy. They are. It's just that Frei Brothers' hits - Cab and Merlot in particular - are well documented here. But back to these wines.  First, the Chard..

2011 Frei Brothers Chardonnay Russian River Valley $16
Delivers all the pleasure points and elegance that California Chardonnay should have, just in a less bombastic manner than is often the case.   No doubt this is in part due to the maladies of the 2011 vintage in Northern California, but here's one case where the subdued effect of the rains might have tempered a wine's exuberance to its benefit.

2011 Frei Brothers Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley $18
Even in a difficult year like 2011 this wine manages to rekindle a long dormant affair with Zinfandel. It's got the grip and tannic structure that are the hallmarks of Dry Creek, and hints of the unapologetic heft reminiscent of the greatness Zinfandel enjoyed in this appellation in the 90s.  Solid.