By Bob Hosmon
Some of the best-known and most-admired wines in today’s market have family names on their labels. Names like Antinori, Drouhin, Mondavi and Rothschild.
Other wineries eschew the family name in favor of labels that honor tradition and history and that includes two wines that deserve our attention: Inglenook Rubicon ($200), a justly famous historical property now owned by Francis Ford Coppola; and Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon ($145), from an 1885 property that was purchased and restored by Gil Nickel in 1979. Both reds are among the best you’ll ever taste.
I also like the notion of wineries bearing a family name that doesn’t seem like it’s a family name. Consider Cakebread Cellars, founded by Jack and Dolores Cakebread in 1971. When I started writing about wine in 1977, it was a Cakebread Zinfandel that got my attention. Today the winery is much larger and its production runs the gamut of varietals. I’m especially fond of the Cakebread Cellars Dolce ($170), a sublime dessert wine.
Kudos also to Duckhorn Vineyards, founded in 1976 by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn. Whether produced under the Duckhorn label or bearing the winery’s other labels of Goldeneye, Paraduxx, Decoy, Migration and Canvasback, every wine from the Duckhorns is nothing short of superb. Sample the Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot ($100), and taste for yourself.
Then there’s Nickel & Nickel Winery, founded by Gil Nickel and his family. If anyone makes better cabs than they, I haven’t found them. Consider the Nickel & Nickel Tench Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($110), and you will understand what I mean.
And last, but not least, there are fun, every-day, budget-priced wines with names like Goats Do Roam, Ménage à Trois, Fat Bastard and 7 Deadly Zins. A wine by any other name might taste as good, but it wouldn’t be as much fun.