Louis M. Martini, Sonoma County, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018


Californian Cabernet Sauvignon normally falls into one of two categories: unaffordably expensive or undrinkably inexpensive.


This neither!

Set pitch-perfectly at rewardingly high quality and, relatively speaking, it is still, just about, affordable.

Full of blackcurrant and blueberry flavours, with notes of vanilla and dried herbs, there is a little more lifted aromatic character and softer, a little juicier, than the Napa version, this is a Cabernet that is easy to drink on its own, yet is a wonderful pairing for red meats and grilled dishes. 

Made from grapes grown in Sonoma, to the north of Napa, this is home to some of the most highly-prized vineyard sites in the New World, which have helped form the reputation of fine wine in California over the past century. The Martini family bought the seriously brilliant Monte Rosso vineyard in Sonoma in 1938 and the younger vines from that stock form part of the blend for this wine. 

This is a very lovely wine, but also it is satisfyingly much more than just that. An excellent example of why you'd love to get to know American wines and a very warm, charming Cabernet that will live long in the memory.

Louis M. Martini grew up in Genova, in the Italian region of Liguria. He left when he was 12 in 1899 to join his father in California, who was already making wine outside San Francisco. Learning on the job, Louis M. made his first wine under his father's gaze at the age of 18 and was promptly sent back to Italy to study winemaking in a more official context. In 1922, when he had returned to California, he set up the L.M. Martini Grape Products Company, which was forced to make "Sacramental Wine" during the Prohibition era.

Once that policy was binned, he was among the first winemakers to seriously seek out the best possible sites and clones for Cabernet Sauvignon production in Napa. These sites are still among the best and most respected for Cabernet Sauvignon in the world: it really is that good. 

The sense of family and tradition is writ large over the story - three generations were involved in the promotion of Napa as a whole, receiving countless honorary awards for their work, while pioneering techniques in vineyard and winery ranging from the use of frost-repelling wind turbines to cool fermentation tanks to gently limit the alcohol levels in their wines. Along the way, growth partnered progress and the expansion to Sonoma and Alexandra Valley regions for more specific sites where Cabernet Sauvignon was grown with serious character. This of course wasn't to lessen the output but to show other, varied sides to the potential of the grape and region. In fact, the search for high quality has been even further intensified since the winery was sold to long-standing friends and neighbours, the Gallo family. 

Now, when most people think that Gallo have any part to play in a winery, eyes roll and we're often set for an inevitable slide in standards, increased production and a generally puffed-up brand message with inadequate quality. However - these families have history that stretches back pre-Prohibition and whatever was said and done during the sale of the business has left the Martinis with an even better future than before! Quality has increased by the addition of an on-site micro-winery, that is dedicated to specific fermentations of single lots from the vineyards that they own, forming a sort of 'cru' system for the winery. And the success? Well, just after a decade of its creation the Lot #1 Cabernet Sauvignon scored one of the only ever 100 point ratings from Parker. Not bad going...

Parker? Well, Lisa Perotti-Brown, writing for his Wine Advocate, wrote:

"This 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon has a deep garnet-purple colour and gives up scents of baked blackberries, kirsch and cassis with a waft of dried Provence herbs. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has a good, firm backbone of grainy tannins with a lively line and long, lifted finish."

Region: Sonoma

Country: USA

Grape(s): Cabernet Sauvignon

Style: Vegan Friendly, Svelte, Sustainable, Structured, Silky, Round, Organic, Medium Bodied, Elegant, Complex, Balanced

Best food matches: Steak, Soft Cheeses, Red Meats, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Hard Cheeses, Charcuterie

Alcohol: 14%

Why buy from us?

When you buy wine from The Allotment Wine Co. you're helping a small Irish company that in turn supports small, sustainable wine producers who grow the grapes and make amazing wines. We only work with partners who share a deep respect and connection with the land and its traditions, witnessed in a firm commitment to quality and sustainability. All of which makes for better wines.

Delivery & Returns

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We pack your online wine order along the following timelines:

Wine orders for delivery in Dublin, received before 12pm on weekdays are prepared so that delivery should be expected the next working day.

Wine orders for nationwide delivery, received by 12pm on weekdays are prepared so that delivery should be expected two working days later.

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Patrick H.
Hi, I'm Chris Gifford.

And you're very welcome to The Allotment Wine Co.

When you wine from me, you're supporting a small Irish business which in turn supports small, sustainable wine producers, as well as other small, dedicated Irish wine importers.

When selecting wines, I look for partners who share a deep respect and connection with the land and its traditions, witnessed in a firm commitment to quality and sustainability. All of which makes for better wines.