Louis M. Martini is at the heart of the history of the Napa Valley. Louis Martini came to San Francisco from Genoa, Italy at age 13 in 1900. Martini survived prohibition by making medicinal, church wine and kits for home wine production, which was allowed under prohibition. As prohibition came to an end, Martini built his winery in St Helena, California, in the Napa Valley. This was one of the first five wineries built in Napa after prohibition.
Over the next 80+ years the family and winery developed a reputation for innovation in the vineyard and wine business. These include:
- Pioneered the use of temperature controlled fermentation.
- Helped establish the Napa Valley Vintners Association, an organization that still exists today to promote, protect and enhance Napa Valley.
- Amongst the first wineries to use wind machines to prevent frost
- Pioneered studies in fermentation impact on aging, clonal selection and terrior
- Amongst the first to use specific lot and individual barrel selection to craft individual Cabernet Sauvignon
- Established the Louis P. Martini Endowment for the Study of Viticulture and Enology in 1989 at UC Davis.
The history and contribution of the family is remarkable. Louis M. Martini winery and vineyards were acquired by E&J Gallo in the 2002 at a time when consolidation on the industry was rampant. With hindsight, we can see Gallo has preserved the history of Louis M. Martini and just as important, they are producing great wines and much of it is at an affordable level. In a dozen plus trips to Napa we’ve never toured or tasted at Louis M. Martini. We will visit there with certainty next time.
Be sure to checkout www.louismartini.com for more history and a Cabernet Sauvignon centric online tour of the winemaking process. Now, on to the 2014 Louis Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon with a video from the winery themselves.
Wine: Louis Martini Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Price: $12.99 from Dierbergs (St. Louis grocery store). Available all over. For those of you in St. Louis, Dierbergs offers 15% off when you buy 6 bottles (can mix) on Wednesdays and that will get the prices down to just above $11.00.
Composition: 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot and the rest Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc and other varieties.
Sight: Beautiful red with purple, young and looks it, dark core
Nose: Baked red and blue berries, cherry, cocoa
Taste: Well balanced overall. Juicy with dark berries, dark cherries and cassis. Good acid that keeps the wine from being super concentrated, but more in balance overall. This is medium body wine with a medium plus finish. It is easy to enjoy.
Overall: Buy this! A very tasty wine and absolutely as good a value as we can find. There is a lot in the bottle here to enjoy. At around $12 and over 4 million bottles made, you can find it, afford it and appreciate it. Well done Louis Martini and Sonoma County.
What the pros say:
93 Points from Decanter
“A delightful approachable wine full of juicy blackcurrant fruit and underpinned by leaf and undergrowth notes. It is intensely scented and bright, giving it that highly sought-after freshness.”
90 Point from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“One of the best values in Cabernet Sauvignon anywhere in the world remains Louis Martini’s Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County (89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot and the rest Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc and other varieties) is just a beautiful wine. Dense ruby/purple with classic tobacco leaf, blackcurrant, loamy soil notes and a touch of wood spice, this wine (aged 16 months in French and American oak) has relatively modest alcohol for Cabernets these days (13.5%), and what’s even more remarkable is that there are 408,000 cases. The wine has the suppleness and upfront charm to be drunk now, but don’t discount the ability of this wine to hold onto life and last, without losing its fruit, for another 7-10+ years. It is a great value.”