NOBLE VINES, produced by California’s Delicato family, are easy to spot on store shelves with their huge numbers on the labels: 446 Chardonnay and 337 Cabernet Sauvignon are two examples. The numbers refer to clones and even portions of vineyards. Winespeak, perhaps, but they tell a story. The popular Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay is named for clone 4, known as the Martini clone developed by Louis Martini in Napa Valley. The “46” stands for a block of vines in the Delicatos’ home vineyard in Bernabe, in Cali’s Monterey County. The 337 Cabernet is a bit easier to decipher. It is named for the clone 337 of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is well-suited to Clay Station Vineyard in the Lodi region of California. It ripens early and the small grapes produce concentrated flavors boosted by color and flavor in the skins.
This year, Wine Enthusiast named the 446 Chardonnay a “Best Buy” and gave it 90 points. Plus it passed the sniff test for Costco — this week, I saw the normally $12.99 wine for $7.99 at the Livonia, Mich., store.
Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay San Bernabe, Monterey, Calf. 2013, $12.99: This is a good Chardonnay for the price — no, it’s excellent for the price! It has complexity and balance, and lush tropical flavors with a sturdy backbone of acidity. It starts with aromas of pear, apple, pineapple and melon, and packs those notes into the midpalate with a dollop of toasty vanilla and spice. Alcohol is 14.5 percent.
Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi, Calf. 2013, $14.99: This bold Cabernet with supple tannins and firm acidity offers aromas of dark cherry and dark currant, and herbal notes followed on the palate by intense berry, cherry, mocha and black pepper flavors. You can sip it by itself or pair with a broiled steak or robust stew.
You can reach Sandra Silfven at email@example.com.