by Dwight Casimere
NAPA VALLEY, CA--Ray Signorello is a different kind of winemaker. Instead of focusing all of his attention on the high-end estate bottled wines that have won him critical acclaim and countless awards, he is charting new territory with a cadre of value-priced wines that deliver the undeniable quality and flavor that he is known for, while appealing to the more value conscious consumer.
"For most of my career at our 30 year old estate, "I have focused on producing wines from our 100-acre estate that are dedicated to excellence. We know that despite our full time dedication to producing these wines, we know their price points make them inaccessible to some."
Enter the new Signorello wines TRIM ($12.99), EDGE($21.99), and FUSE ($25.99); brands that are produced with the same oversight, care, and the exceptional estate-grown grapes as their heralded Cabernet Sauvignon ($90) and Hope's Cuvee Chardonnay ($70).
"Backbone" and "spine" are two words that wine critics often use to describe Ray Signorello's wines. There's yet another word that he likes to use in describing his wines, and that's drinkability. "We're not trying to build a blockbuster wine. Our wines have grip and tannin and are age-worthy yet, our wines don't overpower things. They go well with food."
That's precisely where we find his Trim, Edge and Focus wines. They are terrific tasting wines that have body and structure, yet they go well with a whole range of foods and recipes.
Let's start with TRIM ($12.99), a wine that best represents the Signorello approach. "At TRIM wines, we strive to make a Cabernet Sauvignon using only the best fruit in California. The goal is to make a wine with concentrated fruit flavors and good acid balance." There's no compromise in quality, even though the wine is nearly a tenth of what their flagship Cabernet costs. The TRIM 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is well-crafted. It shows that the winemaking team threw their heart and soul into it. Blended with Merlot, it has layers of ripe strawberries, raspberries, wet stone and a hint of pipe tobacco,sassafras and baking spice on the palate. "This is wine that can easily age for another six years," Signorello says proudly. That's not a quality you'd find everyday in a wine that costs less than $20. I made my signature Louisiana gumbo and served it with this wine. The pairing was an absolute hit!
EDGE 2011 ($21.99) is a bit more complex with a pronounced flavor of dark fruit; blueberry jam, coca cola and hints of black pepper.The wine has a long finish that makes it perfect "barbeque wine" or a great wine for pizza night. "The wine is drinakable now, with its blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah, but it will improve in the bottle for another 5-7 years. " The wine is aged a minimum of 15 months in French and American oak. Again, you won't find that quality in many wines that cost just over $20 a bottle.
FUSE 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.99) was my personal favorite of all of the wines and, to my thinking, the most versatile. Bright red strawberries dominated the palate with a touch of white pepper and well-integrated tannins. Like the EDGE wine, its a blend of predominantly Cabernet with Merlot, Syrah and a hint of Malbec thrown into the mix, which gives the wine a distinctive deep purple color that is so indicative of the Malbec grape. It's just enough of a difference in blending to tip the flavor balance. The wine has an extremely long finish and will give you good cause to go to the nearest butcher and order his or her best Prime Aged Porterhouse Steak. Ray Signorello explains why this wine is so exceptional. "The FUSE is sourced from premier Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot vineyards in the Napa Valley. Our production program follows traditional French winemaking practices with techniques included the use of cold soaking and extended maceration (23-32 days). Prior to bottling, the wine is aged.
FUSE gets its name because this modern Napa Valley Cabernet blend will ignite your mouth!
Below: Signorello Estate in Napa Valley