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Throughout my career I have had the pleasure of meeting many winemakers. One that has always stood out was my first meeting with Joel Gott. Youthful and lively, Joel was excited and passionate about his wines. At the Nino’s Troy location, the Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon became one of my best selling wines for under $20. We also started to carry his Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel, and his following grew. In about November of 2008 the distributor lost the rights to the brand and I was faced with a lot of disappointed customers.
Luckily, January 1, I got the news that the brand was picked up by Great Lakes Distribution. I was so excited I put up a huge display of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel. I was also thrilled to when I was invited to a luncheon with Mr. Gott himself.
During the meal, we tasted all of the Joel Gott wines, with the exception of the Riesling. As we did, Joel talked about his impressive heritage in the wine and food industry and his winemaking philosophies. In the 60’s and 70’ Gott’s Grandfather was the President and winemaker of Inglenook, his Father founded Montevina (one of my personal favorite Zins) and his Wife, Sarah, was the winemaker at Joseph Phelps. With such a pedigree it was no doubt that Joel had wine in his blood. What makes Joel really outstanding is his intricate blending ability. As a savvy and economical winemaker, Joel knew that in order to keep his wines affordable and flavorful, he would have to diversify the regions from which he got his grapes. This is why you don’t see Napa Valley or Sonoma slapped across the front of his labels. He blends the best grapes from his favorite appellations to create bold, complex wines.
Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – Bouquet of white flowers and gooseberry, this refreshing white is 100% stainless steel fermented to bring out bright acidity. On the palate the gooseberry leads while peach, pear and grassy notes flow into a palate cleansing finish.
Joel Gott Chardonnay 2008 – Bright light straw color, the nose shows cooked citrus peel, with a hint of vanilla and butter. White peaches and lemon round out this mouthwatering Chardonnay. Again, 100% stainless steel fermentation lends to the vibrant acidity that makes this a very pair able wine.
Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon 815 2007 – This is the wine that started it all for me. I stuck nose in the glass and found just what I wanted, rich cooked black and red berries, followed by cedar and spice. Classic green herb flavors add complexity to the mouth-filling blackberry and cooked black cherry fruit. The finish of spice box lingers lightly making this a great wine for food or on its own.
Joel Gott Zinfandel 2007 – Joel got his start in Zinfandel and really seems to enjoy taming them and exposing the depth of complexity in this grape. Smoke and spice on the nose, this rich, full bodied Zin is approachable with notes of anis, plums, and lovely cooked fruit. Joel accomplishes all of this without being overripe and jammy.
Joel Gott Zinfandel Mohr-Fry Ranches Lodi 2007 – The difference between the two Zins was like Night and Day. The California Cuvee had bold spicy notes on the nose where as this had Lilac and Violets. A much lighter Zin in style, this had more cassis and blackberry.
Joel Gott Zinfandel Dillian Ranch Armador County 2007 – Big, bold, and ripe like the California Cuvee with the volume turned up to 11. More alcohol and more concentration, the Dillian Ranch Zin offers rich notes of cocoa and cooked cherries. The finish is long, dry, and leaves you wanting for more.
Joel Gott Gott 5 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – Huge herbaceous nose, this rich and luscious Cab imparts Joel’s blending abilities again, only this time from his favorite Napa sub regions. Licorice and black cherries are most predominant, with cocoa and spice. Silky and supple tannins.
So, next time you are in, pick up a bottle of these price savvy wines.
– Jennifer Lauire