My first sip of Cartello red blend had me saying: This is why I love Alexander Valley. It’s a new-to-Ohio blend of grenache, carignan and syrah, with a story familiar to some Northeast Ohio wine enthusiasts.
Cartello carries the same pedigree as the Mila Family Vineyards, which are owned by Richfield residents Michael Oravecz and Loretta DiChiro. That’s because the grapes come from the same bio-dynamically farmed hillside vineyards overlooking the Alexander Valley.
“There’s a true Ohio spirit in these wines,” said Solon native Mike Laszlo, who is a partner in the Cartello wine project along with former professional cyclist Craig Lewis and Oravecz. The group struck up a friendship out West through Ohio people and their love of wine and cycling. Cartello happens to be the name of a mountain pass in Italy.
All 10 acres are nurtured each year as if they are to be made into wines for Mila Family Vineyards’ mailing list members. Each year the grapes are hand-picked, cluster sorted, berry sorted, fermented and put into a specific barrel program for aging.
“Then a year later, Michael and Loretta sit at a table and decide what they want Mila to be this year. It’s all its own project,” said Laszlo.
This is done through barrel selection, sampling and blending. Once the blend and aging for Mila is decided, then the group focuses on blending wine for the Cartello brand.
“These are great wines, ready to drink in the next year. Pull the cork and enjoy them at dinner.”
I‘ve been following this project since its inception. Stelvio Selections Midwest, a new Ohio distributor, was pouring cartello, cabernet, syrah and red blend on a recent night in Richfield. I’m very familiar with the cult quality of Mila wines and was thrilled to sample them with the group.
Phil Your Glass:Burger night for wine lovers
I was pleased beyond belief with the $29.99 Cartello red blend. I was sipping on a glass, enjoying a couple of chicken tacos from Blue Habanero in Brecksville. Beautiful aromas of hillside syrah shine through in this blend accompanied by rich red berry flavors and a velvety finish. The wine was a fantastic pairing with the food. Laszlo went on to say how he enjoyed it with pork fried rice from the Imperial Wok in Solon, along with fish, barbecue, ribeye and hamburgers,
“It’s a nightly drinker for me,” Laszlo said.
While the group was indulging in several high-end French and California bottles, I was quite smitten with my glass of Cartello red blend, noshing on chips, queso and guacamole. Temptation gave in, at the same time the red blend ran out, and I tried the much, much, higher-priced wines at the table. I’m happy to report the Cartello more than held its own.
Don’t go on just my word. The $39.99 Cartello cabernet is already garnering attention as an under-the-radar, up-and-coming California wine as it was recently offered to Acme Fine Wines’ exclusive members in St. Helena, California. The word is out. Now the wine is available in Ohio.
It is a steal of a deal at a fraction of the price.
Buy this wine at Krieger’s Market, Mustard Seed Market, Top Shelf of Ohio in Jackson Township, Fisher’s on Fulton, Papa Joe’s, and at Vaccaro’s Trattoria.
Source : Akron Beacon Journal