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Cosentino Winery - Napa Valley


95 Points - Wine Enthusiast magazine

Mitch Cosentino’s 2001 M Coz Meritage wine is a standout among giants. A giant not in terms of winery size, or even the wine’s production size which is a tiny 360 cases. It’s a giant for it’s achievements and stature in the upper tier of winemaking. The M Coz is without a doubt the best wine Mitch Cosentino produces and the 2001 vintage in particular may be his greatest success to date.

Each and every vintage of M Coz since its debut 14 years ago, has won Gold Medals. It stands out as one of only two wines out of thousands to ever win three Best of Show-Red awards in the San Francisco International Wine Competition. This year’s Best of Show went to Cosentino’s 2001 M Coz. The only other wine to win this honor is Joseph Phelps’ famous Insignia wine. To top things off, Mitch was recently awarded the Andre Tchelistcheff Winemaker of the Year award, named after one of the true founding fathers of the California wine industry.

Mitch Cosentino is the pioneer who made America's first designated and licensed Meritage wine. His 1988 red Meritage wine, “The Poet”, debuted at the Monterey Wine Festival in February 1989. His new wine won a string of Gold Medals that year, and the few hundred cases that were produced were quickly snatched up by other winemakers who presumably wanted to emulate his efforts!

Most of you know already that Meritage (rhymes with heritage) is a term used by many American wineries to designate their best wines blended from two or more classic Bordeaux variety grapes. To be designated a red Meritage wine it must be made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the classic Bordeaux grape varieties. The proportions may vary, but at least three of the grape varieties must be used. For white Meritage, only Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon are permitted. According to strict guidelines, Meritage wine must be either the most expensive or second most expensive wine produced at the winery which is a further assurance of quality.

Mitch Cosentino was at the forefront of this movement as he has been with other endeavors during his winemaking career. In 1981, under his original winery's name, Crystal Valley, he was one of the first in California to release a Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine. And he was the first to do so using a clear bottle. The following year he produced the first commercial premium Chardonnay made from 100% Sacramento County grapes. Following that development, over the next four years Mitch sold as much as 90% of the grapes from that vineyard to bulk producers. Some contend, that marked the beginning of the “Fighting Varietal” era, producing premium quality wines that are priced low to lure consumers away from mass-market jug wines. Later, his focus turned to the Cabernet Franc, a varietal usually used for blending in Bordeaux style wines. Mitch believed the varietal could stand on its own and his efforts resulted in what has become America’s most awarded wine of that varietal. Cosentino’s Cabernet Franc was also the first ever served at the White House.

Mitch released his first wines in 1981, working from a rented 2,000 square foot warehouse at Stanislaus Distributing in Modesto, California. By the mid 1980s Mitch had developed a stellar reputation for making Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay, all crafted from grapes grown in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. In 1990 Mitch moved his operation to Yountville, in the Napa Valley. The new winery cost over $1.5 million to build and sits right next to the famous Mustard's Grill in the thick of Napa Valley activity.

A native Californian, Mitch has spent his wine industry career wearing many hats. Over the last twenty-three years, he has earned not only a solid place in California winemaking lore, but has also been an educator, consultant, professional wine judge, and guest speaker at many major wine events. In addition he has routinely participated in wine evaluation panels for the Bon Appetit, Wine & Spirits, and Connoisseurs Guide publications.

The history of pioneering achievements by Mitch Cosentino, the accolades mentioned above, along with the multitude of others listed in the Accolade section, including a huge 95-Point rating is why we chose the 2001 M Coz as one of our inaugural Diamond Series wines.



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