2018 Alma de Cattleya Red Blend
“To many people the term Cattleya is synonymous with orchids. For a long period, a Cattleya corsage was a prerequisite for any special occasion and as a result the Cattleya has often been called the Queen of Orchids.” – American Orchid Society.
The Cattleya is also the national flower of Colombia, and that is where our story begins in the late 1980s with one Bibiana Gonzalez Rave. There amidst the “epicenter of drugs, cartels, violence and kidnappings” she learned to live in an alternating world of her parents principles – “hard work, tenacity, honesty, and the pursuit of excellence.” And while wine is hard to find in Columbia, she would occasionally wink a couple of sips from her dad’s glass at the table.
These few sips were enough to inspire what would become an all-consuming dream of becoming a winemaker. As soon as she was able, Bibiana packed her bags and went to the heart of world wine making – Bordeaux.
Unfortunately, she had no connections, and in order to survive (and pursue the dream) she became a vine pruner in the cold, snowy winters of Pessac-Leognan. Eventually this got her into the First Growth estates of Haut Brion and Le Mission Haut Brion, where she completed her research. There, she made many connections and was able to intern around the world, questing after the dream to become a winemaker.
From this point, in 2004, Bibiana settles in California and develops an impressive resume, but I think there is some reading between the lines as well. I won’t share all the details of her CV, but it culminates in a six-year stint at a Napa cult winery luminary. That alone is enough to launch her own winery and wine brand – in addition to winning California Winemaker of the Year twice over. But along the way, she also met a boy (none other than famous winemaker Jeff Pisoni—yes, of those Pisonis) and they now have two young sons – who happily romp through her vineyards.
This wine, the Alma de Cattleya Red Blend, has been noted for:
“qualities way above their price points.” Wine Advocate
“distinctive and refreshing… bursting with flavor and character” Wine Spectator
“she succeeds beautifully!… it’s pure and refreshing, with terrific quality” Jeb Dunnuck
And I will add that it drinks simply amazing:
The nose opens with multifarious display of its blend – first aromas of dark black plums, black currant and notes of anise, and 25-year-old balsamic come to the taster. Then on the palate, brighter fruit aromas of damson, pluot, and Ranier cherries draw in the taster to explore and fully engage in the wine’s enchantments. The palate is warm and supple, civilized and taut, offering a depth of fruit that is rich, with a finish that lingers for minutes.
As Bibiana notes, this newest adventure, her Alma de Cattleya, “represents the soul of the land that gives life to [my] wines as well as … soul put into each drop of wine that makes it to the bottle.” Cheers.