The Livermore Valley wine region of Northern California could be deemed the Anti-Napa, with its less than pristine wineries, few luxury B+B’s and minimal foodie culture. What the Valley does have, however, is a low-key vibe, family-owned wineries and one big-name draw–Wente Vineyards. Founded in 1883 and now run by 4th and 5th generation family winemakers, Wente produces more than 800,000 cases a year, dwarfing all other Livermore Valley producers combined.
VinoDuo has visited Wente twice, most recently a year ago March. We flipped for the 2012 Sonata, a Syrah-Cab Franc blend and the 2013 Serenity, a deep, complex wine made from Syrah, Grenache, and Counoise grapes. Sonata and Serenity are “small lot” labels, with prices in the $50-$60 range. That’s a bit out of the VinoDuo buying budget so we recently purchased Wente’s Charles Wetmore 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon ($25/bottle) to try out on some Napa Cab-loving friends. The wine is 77% Cabernet Sauvignon with small contributions of Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, and Merlot.
The nose served up an interesting combo of tobacco and florals, with sumptuous flavors of plum and cherry. Our friend the Napa Snob loved it at first taste but thought it died on the finish, while Gary agreed with the winery’s tasting notes that it had a “long smooth finish.” The bottle disappeared very quickly as it paired nicely with the homemade grilled steak and chicken fajitas. For $25, the 2013 Charles Wetmore Cab is a strong contender for a great weekend wine value. If you see it on a local wine list, don’t hesitate to order it.
The Wente Charles Wetmore 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon retails for $25 and is available throughout the US.