2019 Alma de Cattleya, Red Wine, Sonoma County.
Bibiana González Rave-Pisoni, is a perfect person to spotlight in Women’s History Month and celebrate as a woman winemaker, with her incredible portfolio of work and the passion she puts into all of her efforts, within the vineyards and the cellar, along with her down to earth and humble charm, all of which comes through in her wines. So, I was glad her Alma de Cattleya Sonoma County Red Wine was part of a tasting tribute to women winemakers from around the world, which is even more relevant with Bibiana, as she’s from Colombia, not an easy place from which to transition into the world of wine, making her chase her dreams far from home, traveling to Europe, studying winemaking and working at some of the most important estates in Bordeaux, the Rhône and Burgundy before coming to California. She is now recognized as one of the state’s most talented winemakers, she specializes in Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, along with Sauvignon Blanc that she produces with her husband, another hugely skilled winemaker Jeff Pisoni, under her Shared Notes label. Her exceptional value priced Sonoma Red Wine, made from 64% Syrah, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot, that nicely combines her Rhône and Bordeaux expertise and making for a polished, complex and deeply flavored wine with blackberry, blueberry, dark currant and cheery fruits, a mix of cedar, lilac florals, sweet and savory tobacco, mocha, Asian spices and anise. The texture is smoothly rich, highlighting the ripe tannin nature of the vintage and this garnet/crimson wine has just the right amount of vigor and tension to provide good companionship to a hearty meal and tastes far more expensive and luxurious than it should for the cost.

This Sonoma County Red Wine by Alma de Cattleya was sourced from Sonoma hillside vineyards and a mix of the region’s sedimentary soils and was made with hand crafted care and vigorous and careful selection of clusters and grape berries, which saw a cold soaking to enhance extraction and to lock in heightened aromatics. González Rave-Pisoni says she de-stemmed all the grapes and fermented them in open top stainless steel fermenters, after primary fermentation is complete, the wine was, she adds, drained from the tank and skins are gently pressed, that results in a touch more structure, but allows for elegance to shine through, as seen here in her 2019 version. Then the wine is racked to barrel, where it was aged for eighteen months in all French oak barrels, all of which were neutral barrels, to promote transparency and purity of form, while still having enough effect to soften and mature the wine with a delicate sense of the wood. I’ve been a huge fan of Bibiana’s since her first releases under her top Cattleya label, as well as her efforts for Pahlmeyer’s Wayfarerer Estate, with her Soberanes Vineyard Syrah, farmed by her husband’s famous family in the Santa Lucia Highlands, being one of my all time favorite California wines. I highly recommend this wine, along with all of the Alma de Cattleya offerings showing fabulous right now, in particular the latest Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, but for the more serious wine geek, do not miss her Cattleya Chardonnays, wines that fly under the radar, and the mentioned Syrah bottlings, they highlight her Côte-Rôtie credentials and intriguingly she has bought historic cutting from this famous region to the family’s ranch and makes a limited edition from them! Last May, 2023, I was able to taste through her exceptional Santa Lucia Highlands offerings, including her mentioned rarities and I look forward to tasting her upcoming set of releases soon.
($27 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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