Have you heard of Sutter Home? Likely the most recognizable wine brand in America at one time, Sutter Home is known primarily for white zinfandel found on local grocery shelves.
The Trinchero family bought Napa's Sutter Home Winery in 1947. In the early days, the Trinchero family made bulk red wines from zinfandel. In the early '70s, red wine graced most American tables, but white wine was starting to catch on, especially chardonnay. The Trincheros by this time had vast zinfandel holdings.
To meet the growing demand for white wine, Bob Trinchero, son of the founder, decided to make a white wine from red zinfandel grapes by draining off the juice while it was still clear, before the red-skinned grapes had time to color it. He called the resulting slightly pinkish wine "white zinfandel."
In their wildest dreams, the Trincheros had no inkling their newly invented Sutter Home white zinfandel would make them fabulously wealthy. The proceeds allowed the Trincheros to vastly expand their holdings in property and other brands.
One such brand, Napa Cellars, was acquired in 2006. Napa Cellars was originally owned by two prominent Napa wineries, Frank Family and Rombauer. Though no vineyard land was included in this transaction, the Trincheros did acquire the Napa Cellars label and winery, giving them yet another outlet for juice from their substantial vineyard holdings.
I was a fan of Napa Cellars wines before the change in ownership. Recently I tasted through an array of Napa Cellars wines produced by the Trincheros. I am pleased to report these wines have not suffered in quality. They are still crowd-pleasers and are remarkably good quaffs for the price. All are great wines to consider for the approaching Thanksgiving holiday.
Try these locally available Napa Cellars Wines:
Napa Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2007. $13.75 at Tyson Art and Frame in Golden Springs. Floral nose. Light on the palate with prevailing flavors of citrus. Nice finish.
Napa Cellars Chardonnay 2008. $14.75 at Tyson. More traditional chardonnay in the sense it saw time in new French oak. Though the trend with chardonnay now seems to be tilting toward the unoaked versions, oak aging adds depth and concentration. This is a great stand-alone wine. Serve as an aperitif with a creamy cheese, chicken, or seafood dish.
Napa Cellars Pinot Noir 2007. $19.50 at Tyson. Light, pleasant pinot noir made from grapes sourced from the cooler southern region of Napa. Nice berry flavors with a hint of earthiness on the palate. Pair with grilled salmon or Thanksgiving turkey.
Napa Cellars Merlot 2005. $14.75 at Tyson. A merlot with structure and depth. Dark berry fruit aromas and taste. Smooth with well-integrated tannins and a long finish. Great with prime rib or steak. The Wine Cellar on Quintard in Anniston has the 2006 vintage of this wine.
Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. $19.50 at Tyson. A good cabernet of moderate intensity. Dark fruit flavors punctuated with hints of tobacco and saddle leather in the aroma. Easily approachable, nice feel at mid-palate, and a great finish. Good with blackened beef or pork preparations.
Napa Cellars Zinfandel 2006. $14.75 at Tyson. I love zinfandel and this was my favorite in the lineup because it behaves like a much more expensive wine. Concentrated and intense aromas of blackberry and raspberry jam. High alcohol wine at 15.7 by volume, but remarkably smooth. Serve with smoked pork or turkey.