Galerie Wines | Winemaking Meets Artistic Expression
As an artist, your first exhibition is your debut to the world. As exciting as it must be unnerving to gauge your reception, it is the invaluable opportunity to express your artistic talents in an uninhibited, open environment. But in this case, you needn’t visit a gallery to soak in this artists hard work, you need only to uncork a bottle of Galerie Wine.
Galerie Wines is an exciting and unique new project by Winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz which seeks to showcase the contrast in terroir between Knights Valley and Napa Valley. The road leading up to her inaugural Galerie Wines release has been a long and windy one.
As a child, she sipped her fathers Albarino while nibbling on fresh seafood in Northern Spain and later discovered her passion while doing lab-work for a consulting winemaker. After deciding to focus her efforts on wine, she majored in Enology in Madrid before honing her winemaking skills at wineries in Spain, New Zealand and Chile before finally making her way to Napa Valley.
There she found herself in the enviable position of working under Chris Carpenter, one of Napa Valley’s most respected winemaking professionals whose Lokoya and Cardinale wines are among Napa’s most highly sought after. But after several years as Mr. Carpenter’s protege, it was time for Mrs. Munoz to showcase her own talents and individuality with Galerie Wines serving as her canvas.
Galerie Terracea Spring Mountain Napa Valley Riesling 2014: 100% Riesling Sourced from the same Spring Mountain Vineyard (Yverdon) as the Cabernet Sauvignon for Lokoya’s coveted Spring Mountain label, the Riesling is the only wine in the Galerie portfolio without a peer. Pours a vivid pale golden yellow. There are aromas of white flowers and stone fruit interlaced with lime and wet stone. In the mouth, this medium bodied Riesling boasts sweet peach and nectarine flavors are underscored by lime, orange peel and a wet stone minerality. Finished with bright acidity and subtle spice notes. Just barely off-dry with the slightest perception of sweetness which seems to come from the fruit rather than residual sugar. A complex, refreshing, wonderfully balanced Napa Valley Riesling.
Score: 91 | Price: $30 | RS: 10 g/L
Galerie Equitem Knights Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014: 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Knights Valley’s Kellogg West Vineyard. Pours a pale straw yellow in the glass. The nose is incredibly fresh and vibrant, revealing aromas of lime, grapefruit and pear along with grassy, floral nuances. In the mouth, it’s light to medium bodied with a wonderfully crisp, invigorating yet delicate personality. A medley of lime citrus and lemon peel tangles with tart grapefruit, snappy acidity and a hint of spice. It possesses an undeniable undercurrent of minerality combined with an energy and tension that are all too rare in California Sauvignon Blanc. The Galerie Equitem Sauvignon Blanc is a Chablis drinkers Sauvignon Blanc!
Score: 91 | Price: $30
Galerie Naissance Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014: 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Longwood Ranch in North Napa, Gamble Vineyards in Yountville and Wilson Ranch in St. Helena. Pours a similar pale straw yellow to the Knights Valley, though with discernibly riper fruit aromas on the nose. The pineapple and guava seem almost reticent, enveloped in a tightly-knit core of citrus, mineral and vibrant acidity. In the mouth, it is fuller-bodied than the Knights Valley with more generous tropical fruit flavors mixing with orange peel and spice. Despite being from warmer Napa Valley with riper fruit flavors, this still manages good freshness with zesty acidity.
Score: 90 | Price: $30
Galerie Latro Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Kellogg Estate Vineyard in Knights Valley (Sonoma County). Bottled unfined and unfiltered after 19 months in 55% new French oak. Pours a deep shade of garnet red. The nose offers up a rich, yet delicate perfume of black cherry and creme de cassis interlaced with rose petal and subtle suggestions of cinnamon and loam. Medium to full-bodied, it boasts a generous, round core of blackberry and creme de cassis underscored by licorice, smoke, liquefied rock, graphite and a touch of scorched earth. Finishes long with some grip from the powdery, finely grained tannins. A beautiful, harmonious expression of Cabernet Sauvignon that makes a compelling case for Sonoma Cabernet.
Score: 93 | Price: $50
Galerie Pleinair Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Stagecoach, Red Hen, Van Z and Spring Mountain vineyards. Bottled unfined and unfiltered after 19 months in 55% new French oak. Pours slightly darker in the glass than the Knights Valley, with an opaque core that transitions to a shade of vivid crimson at the rim. On the nose there’s a bounty of red and black fruit, namely raspberry, strawberry, black cherry and black currant that’s enveloped in a core of sweet oak, dried rose petal, toffee, black licorice and burning ember nuances. In the mouth, the Galerie Pleinair Napa Valley is discernibly bolder and toastier, with more density and extract than the Knights Valley. The tight, chewy core delivers plenty of fruit while benefiting from dusty cocoa and licorice nuances. The fruit is well balanced by polished, grippy tannins that linger on the moderately long, dry finish. Fans of bold, yet polished Napa Cabernet mustn’t overlook this solid value.
Score: 92 | Price: $50
Galerie Wines | Sitting Down With the Artist
When the opportunity presented itself to sit down with Mrs. Munoz to taste through her Galerie Wines, I couldn’t resist. After first sitting down, Mrs. Munoz seemed reserved and cautious as she recounted her story of how Galerie Wines came to fruition.
Tasting the Galerie Knights Valley Cabernet and Napa Valley Cabernet side by side, I mentioned that the Knights Valley was a bit closed, and not quite as expressive as the Napa Valley at the moment. Being brand new releases that have just traveled across the country, this is not exactly unusual – plus the Knights Valley Cabernet had arguably been handicapped by unfairly being served in a much smaller glass.
Mrs. Munoz quickly began to open up, and politely insisted that the Knights Valley Cabernet be poured in the same glass as the Napa Valley Cabernet. Like a proud parent, she wanted her children to be afforded every opportunity they deserved. Luckily, the wine did begin to open up, revealing itself to be quite layered, nuanced, even feisty at times – not unlike the personality of its Winemaker.
That this compelling portfolio, awash in contrast and true expressions of terroir, is Mrs. Munoz’s first solo winemaking project truly speaks to her passion and long journey to arrive at this point in her career. I can’t get enough of the distinctive minerality oozing from the Knights Valley wines, and I had to take the Galerie Terracea to a Riesling fan to demonstrate that Napa Valley can hold its own with the varietal.
Plus, the wines are also reasonably priced, which is as refreshing as the snappy personality of the Galerie Equitem Sauvignon Blanc in increasingly expensive Sonoma and Napa. My suggestion? Check out Galerie Wines before these canvases go the way of Basquiat.
*Wines were submitted as media samples for purposes of review. No other consideration was received for publishing this article. Thanks for reading!