Today's blogger Dave Cancilla has been in the wine business for 38 years. His start came in his father's liquor store, and from there he has been experienced every aspect of the wine business - from production to marketing, from wholesale to retail. In between, he has found time to work in the hospitality industry and has selected wines for service at the White House. You can now find him at one of the friendliest wine stores in Sacramento - Beyond Napa Wine Merchants which is located in the Lyon Village Shopping center on Fair Oaks. He will be picking wines for an upcoming issue of Sacramento Magazine.
My Favorite California Wine
This kind of question is almost impossible for me to answer because of all the amazing wines I have been lucky enough to encounter over the years. But if you put my feet to the fire I would have say to say Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon from the Monte Bello Vineyard.
Do I consider it the very greatest of all California wines? No, but I wouldn’t make that statement about any other wine either, there are just too many great wines. It is my favorite for more personal reasons than just how transcendentally rich, powerful, elegant, and distinctive it can be.
You see when I was growing up I could see Monte Bello Ridge above the town of Cupertino from my bedroom window. As I grew into adolescence and became interested in wine it was so exciting to think of great wine being produced that close to home. Then I grew old enough that they would actually serve me in the tasting room, and the excitement only increased!
To be honest I don’t remember the first vintage of Monte Bello I ever tasted, but I do remember that I have tasted every vintage ever produced commercially. The first vintage of Monte Bello was the 1962 and at the time I tried it, it was the oldest California wine I had ever tasted.
The vintages at the top of the list for me would be the 1966, 1967, 1985, 1991, and 1999, but don’t make me pick between those. My favorite Monte Bello memory (maybe my favorite wine memory period) is drinking the 1977 on its 15th birthday while sitting in the vineyard leaning against a vine.
The 1982 vintage actually taught me a lesson about great wine. Nobody would call it a great Monte Bello (they lowered the price from $50 to $15), but when you drank it (which we did plenty of) you could tell it was a Monte Bello. And that for me defines greatness in wine, not only that it is delicious, but that it is unmistakable in its character and singularity.
Funny that’s a pretty good way to define Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon, no wonder I dig it so much!