I’ve had many Laraneta wines and the quality is always superb. It’s not just because they make good wine, it’s also because don’t release it until it’s ready to drink, which is always a welcome change from many other producers who release their wines too early. They’ve got a beautiful vineyard in Templeton just south of Paso Robles, where they grow primarily Italian varietals. Joe and Melinda Laraneta have a passion for good wine and it shows through in the care they give to their vineyard and each vintage they produce. There have been vintages where one varietal or another just didn’t make the cut so no wine was produced.
I recently got a bottle of the coveted Cardinal Gold, which I’ve heard a lot about for quite some time now but never got the chance to drink it until this past weekend. I expected a lot from this wine since its reputation preceded it and I was not disappointed. The wine is a blend of 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 33% Sangiovese. It’s very unique because the climatic conditions have to be just right so the 3 varietals can be harvested at about the same time making it possible to create the “blend at fermentation”. They have not had the right conditions since 2005 so none has been produced since. This is the true meaning of “no wine before it’s time”
It is a soft lightly fruit forward wine with dark berry, plum, cherry and a hint of raspberry notes coming through initially with subtle spices and an earthy quality at the finish.
This is truly a gem of a wine. Its versatility is personified by the wide variety of pairings it can go with. We paired it with a herbed balsamic roast chicken and yet it would also go well with salmon, roast pork, turkey, venison, bison, and cheese.
The Cardinal Gold only 42 cases produced a wine to pick up asap before it’s all gone.