Wednesday was a free day for Kara and me… It was our last free day of the summer, so we decided to hit up a few local wineries.
You’ve got to know that we had an amazing day.
The amazing 2007 Lila's Cuvee Rhone Blend paired with an amazing view at Clos La Chance.
I could tell you about how much fun we had at Clos La Chance…
2008 Biagini Vineyard Pinot Noir side-by-side with the 2008 Erwin Vineyard Pinot Noir at Clos La Chance. Both wines were hella RAD!
I could tell you about our awesome pre-dinner visit to Bubbles Wine Bar…
Hella to the yeah, son!
The only thing better is bubbles and oysters. Dope!
I could even let you know about the Rad Mexican feast we had at Sinaloa Cafe…
Come for the margaritas. Stay for more margaritas.
So please forgive me if I don’t.
I’ve been dying to write about some wine that I hated…
I mean HATED.
Please alow me to present Fortino Winery…
Fortino... unfortunately = (
Fortino is a neat looking venue on the corner of Watsonville Road and Hecker Pass in Gilroy. We hit it up after Clos La Chance because it was one of the few wineries in the area that was open on a Wednesday afternoon.
Now, you should know that I’ve been to Fortino twice before. Once was about two years back before I was as passionate about wine as I am today. It was also well before I would take notes on wine. The other time was after a long day of tasting during the Santa Clara Valley Passport Weekend, so my palate was shot. You even read about me having their Almond Champagne at the Garlic Festival. But this time… This time, I was gonna take it seriously (Not so fortunate for Fortino).
Here’s the breakdown…
2009 Chardonnay ($16.95): Nose of honey, pineapple, apple, and flowers. Not bad. The palate was a thick and sweet version of lemon/lime soda. Not good. Score it a 75 and trust me… You don’t want it.
2010 Black Muscat Blush ($16.95): Tropical fruit (mango and guava) on the nose. The taste was of ridiculously sweet flowers. This wine is obnoxious. I’m mad that they served it at the beginning of the tasting, because it’s basically a crappy version of a desert wine. 78. Pass.
On to the Reds:
2008 Carignan ($18.95): Here’s where I start to get angry. Carignan, when done right, is one of my favorite varietals. Fortino makes a big deal about their estate carignan coming from 80 year-old vines. The only way you could mess this up is if you don’t know how to make wine, or don’t care how it turns out. My guess is that Fortino falls into the latter category. There was this nose of green bell pepper that gave me some hope, but it came with this over-the-top sweet red fruit that destroyed it. The taste was sweet red cherries with just a little bit of tires and nice acidity. The problem with this wine was there was no balance. It was all sweetness. If I want a sweet red wine, I’ll hit up 7 Eleven. This is a 79. In a better mood, maybe I’d give it an 80-.
Non-Vintage Maribella ($16.95): The bar menu reads, “This off-dry blend named after Marie Fortino offers hints of cherry and raspberry. Blended from Cabernet, Sangiovese & Carignan”. Here’s what it should say, “We threw a bunch of leftover grapes from a bunch of different vintages together and came up with this nasty sweet red wine. We named it after our grandma to guilt you into buying it.” This wine smelled like sugarfied sweetness with tires and fruit. It tasted like cherry syrup. This wine, more so than the others, sucks ass. 58.
2008 Zinfandel ($22.00): The bar menu reads, “Aged in vintage oak barrels for 20 months, these Santa Clara Valley grapes go great with chocolate”. It should say, “We went to our local nursery, picked up a few wine barrel flower pots, superglued them together, and were all like, ‘We should put some Zin in here!’ So we did. It doesn’t taste good, unless you have it with a brick of chocolate.” The nose is big and chocolatey, with a bit of plum. It showed some promise, but then I tasted it. Imagine taking a jar of canned cranberry sauce and spreading it over a dirty ass chair that had been left outside for years. Now wait for the hottest day of the year, and take a bite of that dirty cranberry covered chair. Doesn’t sound good, does it? The wine wasn’t good either. 60.
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($28.00): Cured ham, blackberry and oak on the nose. Blackberry, black olive, and oak on the palate. I’m giving it an 81. The good news is that it’s not horrible. The bad news is that for $28, I could buy half a case of something better. What a shame.
Non-Vintage Almond Champagne ($16.95): You’ve heard me say it before. The almond tastes very fake, but the wine is still nice and refreshing. It’s made from 100% French Colombard. In making conversation with our server (who was very nice), I asked her where the French Colombard was from. Her response, “Well… I’m not sure. There’s this other company that makes it for us. We just put the label on it.” That makes sense. No wonder I’m giving it an 84. This is worth trying.
Apricot ($16.95): How can you dis fruit wine? It’s delicious. It smells like a bag of dried apricots. It tastes like apricots. I would try it with some vanilla ice cream (I gots ta get me some of that). But, at the end of the day, it’s fruit wine. I have a physics teacher friend that makes stuff like this for fun. Take some fruit. Crush it. Throw it in a vat. Add some yeast. Let it sit for a few weeks. Bottle it. 83.
Here’s the thing that gets me mad. There are tons of vineyards in this area. Tons! Please check the map. The fruit, from one vineyard to the next is essentially the same. And the fruit is good. There are plenty of wineries in the Santa Clara Valley that are making great wine with their grapes. The problem is that there are almost as many wineries in this area that just don’t care enough to make good wine. They use cheap methods (like using “vintage” barrels), and have no problem pushing a crappy product on their customers. That’s just what Fortino is doing… and it’s off-putting.
If you look at their website (which looks worse than this blog) or their Yelp Page, it becomes apparent that they are much more into pushing events and weddings than making good wine. In fact, the only other people in the tasting room that day, were two different couples that were planning to have their weddings at Fortino. I overheard one couple say, “We don’t normally like Cabernet, but this stuff is great.” On the other end of the bar, the other couple was all, “This Maribella is great!” Kara and I just shook our heads. I could not imagine having to serve that kind of garbage at my wedding.
Fortino has a loyal following. Many more than I have. If you’re a big fan of them, all the power to you. You’ve got your own palate, and you should trust it. I’m sure they put on great events. I’m sure the weddings there are beautiful. And hey… The Almond Champagne and Apricot Wine ain’t bad.
I’ve got a message for Fortino…
I love wine.
You make bad wine.
I hate it.
You can do better.
Step it up.