Monday, May 3, 2021

Cannonball Wine Makes A Splash

Share a Splash Wine Company was founded in 2006 as Cannonball.  Yoav Gilat's idea was to make great wines and sell them for less than $20.  Today, Cannonball is joined by ELEVEN, Angels and Cowboys, Astrolabe Wines and High Dive Napa Valley as a full portfolio for the Healdsburg-based outfit.

Head winemaker Ondine Chattan is a female veteran in a business which has been dominated by males. Her time in the California wine industry has seen her getting purple hands at Cline, Ridge Vineyards and for 18 years at Geyser Peak prior to joining Share A Splash.  She is a California native who takes a hands-on approach to winemaking, educated at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Fresno State.  She is proud of her spring releases, and she says they show the bright fruit flavors for which her home state is famous.

While the Angels & Cowboys offerings were pretty good, I thought, the Cannonball bottlings troubled me.  First of all, they are billing the concept of the "cannonball" as a bold move when it is actually simple belligerence.  Anyone who has ever been in the vicinity of a pool when some asshole yelled "Cannonball!" and dropped their body into the water like a big sack of potatoes, knows that the move is that of an attention-hungry child who lacks the sense that God reportedly gave a goose.  "Heh heh, I got everybody wet," said Beavis to Butthead.

Further, the Cannonball wines relied very heavily upon oak.  In the Chardonnay that sat well with me, although I tired of the experience quickly.  In the Cabernet, I did not find the quality redeeming.

The Cannonball California Chardonnay 2019 was 70% fermented in French oak, with the remainder vinified in steel tanks.  The wine - blended from several sources - saw nine months in oak, altogether.  Alcohol clocks in at 12.5% abv and the retail price is $16.

This wine is made from grapes sourced in Monterey and Mendocino counties as well as Sonoma.  The nose shows apricot and lemon pie, with a healthy dollop of oak spice.  The oak comes through on the palate as well, in the form of some of the nicest "butter" I have tasted in a Chardonnay.  Meyer lemon, pear and cantaloupe flavors also turn up.  The acidity is quite nice and fresh, and the mouthfeel is full and rich.  

The Cannonball California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a juicy, red which the winery says drinks like a Cab that sells for more than $15.  That may be true, but it is a rather low bar to tout.  It is the wine which started the company 15 vintages ago.  Alcohol checks in reasonably at 13.5% abv.

This wine has a dark ruby tint in the glass and a nose of ripe fruit and oak spice.  The palate confirms the oakiness of the wine - a bit too much for my taste.  The tannins are a bit too forceful, too.  The mouthfeel seems weak and watery, while the fruit flavors have an almost candied taste.  I have had $15 wines before which were outstanding.  This one, unfortunately, does not fall into that category.

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