March 16, 2021, 2:24PM
Updated 30 minutes ago
Bibiana Gonzalez knows how to walk the tightrope of calamity. Raised in Medellin, Colombia, Gonzalez recalls the chaos created by the drug cartels, bombings and kidnappings four decades ago.
“In the 1980s in Colombia, there was less security with life,” Gonzalez said. “The wildfires were a reminder that material possessions and objects are irrelevant. It’s all about the moments and time you have with people you love.”
The vintner is behind our wine of the week winner — the Alma de Cattleya, 2019 Sonoma County Red Wine, 14.1%, $27. This red blend has great structure and generous fruit, and it rides on crisp acidity. The makeup is 64% syrah, 22% cabernet sauvignon and 14% merlot. It has aromas and flavors of blackberry and cassis, with a kiss of chocolate. This is a striking blend, and the attractive price gives this blend the edge in this flight.
Other tasty red blends are Ramey, 2017 Claret, North Coast Red Wine, 14.5%, $42; Rodney Strong Vineyards’ Upshot, 2018 Sonoma County Red Wine Blend, 14.5%, $29; Bogle Vineyards’ Essential Red Blend, $11, and Friends.red, 2019 Sonoma County Red Wine, 14.2%, $14.
As for the winning Alma de Cattleya red, Gonzalez said it’s an unorthodox wine because Rhone blends typically don’t include cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
“I’m crazy in love of syrah,” she said. “I worked several harvests in Côte Rôtie, and I was trained in Bordeaux. I loved the blend from the very beginning and feel fortunate to have access to the grapes and the wines that resulted in a very seductive red. I have tasted the wine next to some pretty impressive Saint-Emilion Premier Cru and many red wines above $100 a bottle and feel like this wine is just a fantastic wine at a remarkable value.”
Gonzalez, 43, is the founder and winemaker of Santa Rosa’s Alma de Cattleya wines. Cattleya means orchids, and the winemaker created her label in 2014 in Rohnert Park. Among her many accolades, the winemaker was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s “40 Under 40.” She earned a degree in viticulture and enology from the Lycée de L’Oisellerie in Cognac in 2002 and a degree in enology from the University of Bordeaux in 2004.
“I feel like my whole life has been dedicated to the pursuit of making wine and of making extraordinary wines,” Gonzalez said.
Producing a blend, the winemaker said, is a mystery.
“You have an idea when you are creating blends, but another part of the magic is how they blend together and how the mouthfeel with the aromatics develop with time,” Gonzalez said.
With wine consumption up in the United States, the winemaker said it’s clear the pandemic has given people pause.
“I feel like wine became that moment of the day where we could all relax and appreciate life for a second, a way to forget the hardship of the current reality,” Gonzalez said. “Opening a bottle of wine to share with friends and family — even if over Zoom — makes these challenging days easier and gives us more to appreciate.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-5310.
Wine, The Press Democrat
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