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The Hidden Treasures of One Pioneering Winery

I spend my days ransacking cellars like some wine-obsessed Indiana Jones. Notebook in hand, it’s my job to plumb the depths of wineries’ portfolios in pursuit of red, white and rosé gems. On one of my recent expeditions to Napa Valley, I uncovered a wine curator’s treasure trove, perfectly intact.

As of today, I’ve known winemaker Mitch Cosentino for years; we met on my very first trip to Napa Valley long ago, and as a sommelier I appreciated the approachability and food-friendliness of his wines. I liked being able to offer wines to diners that they could find again in the future, after they’d left the restaurant. Cosentino’s wines had that perfect combination of high quality, accessibility and drop-dead deliciousness.

Mitch is a trailblazer in the strictest sense of the word. While everyone else was making Cabernet, he started releasing incredible Merlot and Zinfandel. This was also the first Napa winery to offer a Meritage-designated blend.

You’ve probably had a couple of the Cosentino wines that I’ve offered on Lot18, some of them bottlings that usually can’t be found outside the winery. But on my most recent visit, at an unexpected moment, Mitch told me, “I’ve never done this before, but I’m going to give you access to the entire library.”

I was stunned. In 20 years of production, Mitch has amassed a tremendous library of passion projects, special bottlings, rarities and one-offs that have rarely been seen outside of the Cosentino cellar. I’d heard of most and tried many, but I had never been granted this kind of license to select, taste and offer from this vinous fortune.

In the cool, quiet cellar beneath the winery, Mitch and I spent the better part of a day tasting through more than 50 wines. From the youthful and vibrant with years of evolving ahead of them, to the mature and elegant that have been patiently waited on for years, this was an unprecedented discovery.

There was the 2008 The Novelist, a white Meritage blend of age-worthy depth that rivals white Bordeaux; the 2006 Estate Meritage, a classically styled wine made only in the best vintages; the 2006 Bell’Arte Red, a Super Tuscan-style blend previously available only through the winery; the 2005 Napa Valley Reserve Merlot, a Napa Valley classic with Old World charm; and the 2005 & 2006 Secret Clone Cabernet Sauvignon, an auction-block favorite from a mysterious 70-year-old vineyard with unidentified vines that creates stunningly deep, rich and structured wines.

At the end of that day, exhausted, with handwritten notes scattered and stained with two decades of wine, I had selected the very best of them. These are wines that you’d be lucky to find at auction and that, before now, were available to only a handful of mailing-list members.

Lot18 has never offered so many bottles from a single winery, and we’re thrilled to be able to bring these to our members. Visit our Cosentino Boutique to check out these rare gems and bring them home.

Follow my expeditions and discoveries on Twitter @kevinboyanci

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