Monday, June 12, 2017

Scotto Family Cellars Offers California Value Selections

Scotto Family Cellars history in winemaking dates back to 1883. Today it is the “biggest California winery you’ve never heard of.”

Family Tradition – Eye On The Future

I first became acquainted with Scotto Family Cellars during last year’s Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, California. Scotto had collaborated on the Masthead project – a Sangiovese wine developed by a team of four wine bloggers. Well not only was the wine a winner, but we had an opportunity to visit the newly opened Scotto Cellars tasting room in downtown Lodi for a Masthead debut party. It was a great evening filled with fun and excellent wine.

Dominic Scotto’s homemade red wine filled the family glasses in Ischia, Italy, in 1883. In 1903 he immigrated to New York. In the 1940’s his sons sold jugs of their father’s wine from a pushcart in Brooklyn. Dominic and his brother Sal created Villa Armando, one of the oldest wine brands in the US, which had filled more than 250 million glasses with traditional red wine.

The company is now run by the latest generation of Scottos – five siblings – who operate state-of-the-art wineries in Lodi, Napa Valley and Amador County. While Scotto Family Cellars has deep traditional roots – with 53 harvests in California – they also have an eye on the future.

Lodi Flavor And Value

One of the revelations during my trip to Lodi was the diverse winegrowing scene. Although know for superb Zinfandel, grape varieties from Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy and the Rhone Valley are also grown.

The agricultural abundance in Lodi, enables the region to be a leader in providing quality wine at a great price point. The wines are on target not only with rich flavors – but with outstanding value.

We sampled a pair of Scotto Family Cellars recent releases that checked both boxes. The 2016 Dry Sangiovese Rosé was opened on a warm evening. We were visiting friends and on their deck overlooking a small lake. We are fans of Sangiovese in any form and the lovely reddish-pink hue had us thirsting for the first sip.

The rosé is crisp with swirls of strawberry and sour cherry. The wine is fermented in stainless steel, so the flavors are pure and crisp. This is an ideal food wine and can pair with vegetarian dishes, appetizers or with mild or spicy entrees.

A few evenings later we were on the back patio around the fire pit. The 2013 Scotto Family Cellars Malbec was uncorked.

This is an unpretentious and satisfying wine. The body is light with ample fruit and smoky notes. Tannins are dialed back in this wine adding to the smooth finish. This was a perfect wine for unwinding around the fire.

Both wines are priced at $14.99 and are a hit at that figure. These are perfect for casual entertaining.

What Millennials Want

The wine industry has been wringing its hands for some time trying to figure out how to sell wine to Millennials. Contemporary lifestyles require some rethinking on the part of wineries.

Scotto Family Cellars has answered the call with some innovative packaging. The Heavyweight line, which has a boxing theme, is available not only in traditional glass bottles, but also in 187 ML pre-packaged plastic cups.

I sampled the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was a varietally correct Cab. If someone had served this to me in a glass, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. The traditional glass bottle sells for $11.99 and this tastes like what I would expect the wine from the bottle to be.

Assuming the same blend goes into the plastic cups, it includes Cabernet Sauvignon with lesser amounts of Barbera and Petit Verdot. For camping trips or on the boat, this could work very well. They would pop easily into a backpack for a hike, bike ride or picnic. Heavyweight in the convenient plastic container costs $3.99.

Anywhere Cellars is a 250 ML canned wine.  This product is also priced at $3.99, although some states require that they be sold in four-packs. Unlike the Heavyweight, this isn’t a vintage wine. I sampled the California Anywhere Red Wine. To me, the aluminum can was hard to ignore and didn’t enable the typical sipping experience. Unlike the Heavyweight, the wine itself wasn’t very good. I’m not sure if the can contributed to the somewhat bitter taste, or if it was strictly my brain manifesting its objection.

My verdict? If portable wine is a must, Heavyweight is your best option. These two products are in the process of rolling out nationwide.

Full disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.

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