Marietta Cellars: A Conversation with the Prodigal Son

It all started with the need to catch up with my dear friend, Julie, who I had not seen in ages and who had some big life decisions to make.  We sat outside Veritas on a glorious Spring day in Dallas.  We actually only get about twenty days a year like this before the temperature makes the jump from low 70’s to high 80’s and above, so we were savoring the sunshine and the tasty wine in front of us.

Brooks, the owner of Veritas, came out to greet us and told us that we needed to leave the sunshine in order to attend a tasting of his latest find – Marietta Cellars.  Of course I can’t pass up the chance to taste a new winery and meet the winery family.  Also…it was free.  We started talking to Sam Bilbro, one of the brothers involved in the business whose business card reads “Prodigal Son.”  Sam had a clear passion for the wine business and his family’s wines.  He’s considered prodigal because he just returned to the vineyard after working for several other wineries.  After answering about 101 questions from me about Napa, his wines and what it is like to work in a family business, he began to pour.

We tasted five wines that day and I had a very definite favorite.   Our first wine was Marietta Old Vine Lot 51 NV (retails around $13).  Let me just name this an official pizza wine.  It was very fruit forward and bursting with spice and jam.

The next wine was the 06 Marietta Petite Syrah, which retails for $19.99.  Big blueberry fruit with spice, it was a full-bodied wine.  We then moved on to the 07 Marietta Zinfandel, which retails for $19.99.  It was a well balanced zin with hints of earthiness and a big berry taste.  The 06 Marietta Cabernet Sauvignon followed.  This  is an everyday drinking wine with lots of blackberry flavor,  priced at $19.99.

My favorite was the more expensive Marietta Angeli Cuvee.  Worth every penny of its $29.99 price tag (it drank like a more expensive wine), the Old Vines brought out the complexity of this wine.  I love the blend of berries, the spice and the balance.  It’s what a big red wine should be and one that will soon be joining my collection.

This week, Sam reached out to me to offer any assistance or answer any questions – even about other wineries.  Even though this little blog is less than two months old, I have been amazed at the responsiveness and willingness to help offered by the winemakers and families involved in the wine business.   Having worked in another industry for about 20 years, it is a nice discovery and I believe a testament to why wine consumption has continued to grow in the US.