About Mitch: Mitch Cosentino began making wine in small lots in Modesto, California in 1980. Ten years later he moved the Cosentino Winery operation to the Napa Valley, where he continued to make many award-winning varietal and blended wines.
Cosentino has a gift for identifying fruit sources and is highly skilled and artistic in determining blends. He’s a big believer in the hands-on, old world use of punched cap fermentation, a labor-intensive, hand-crafted method of winemaking. When it comes to the small lots Cosentino puts into his pureCru blends, this “micro” approach to winemaking allows him to better control the delicate process from the vineyard to the bottle.
Bill: What year and what made you decide to start making wine?
Mitch: Divine misguidance in 1980 for the Wine Distributor I was managing. It was at the encouragement of other notable winemakers from Napa and the North Coast who felt I had the right aptitude to do well and they were willing to advise or help if I needed it.
Bill: Have you tried aging a wine in barrels made of oak from around the world? If yes, have you found success with certain wine/country/oak type combinations?
Mitch: I have used barrels from many countries and many different states (for American Oak) such as Oregon, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and another one or two. Countries include: France, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia (and all of the Czech Republic) Russia, Italian made French, US made French (several companies), and French Acacia wood barrels.
Bill: If you were starting again, what thing would you do first that’s different to what you did before.
Mitch: I don’t know that I would do anything different in the beginning.
Bill: Do you have a varietal or style you prefer?
I enjoy many wine types and styles as long as they are balanced. I don’t want a dry wine to be sweet and say it is dry and I don’t want “artificial” formula wines.
Bill: Is there a varietal you do not prefer and why?
Mitch: While I do like Rhone style Syrah, I don’t appreciate most Shiraz. Nor am I into Viognier except as a rare Late Harvest wine.
Bill: How did you come up with the name MCoz for your signature wine?
Mitch: M.Coz was the name we came up with while being involved is a lawsuit with Bordeaux 2nd growth winery Cos Estournel in 1992 for our wine which was originally named “COS Napa Valley” (1988 vintage). (Note: they didn’t sue their neighbor Cos Labory nor an Italian Winery using COS). While going thru the process we came up with M.Coz off of my signature which was already on the original label (M.Cosentino). The Z replaced the S for proper pronunciation. “Coz” is a somewhat common nickname for men with a Cosentino surname. We elected to use it voluntarily, The French Winery attorneys didn’t like it but I stood firm and the Judge made them see the way.
Bill: Were you part of the group of vintners that started the Meritage alliance to promote the blending of the Bordeaux varietals here in the United States?
Mitch: I was one of the original founders and as a result it was my wine that was the first designated and labeled Meritage wine and used for the trademarking of the term Meritage. The wine was the 1986 Cosentino Winery “THE POET”.
I continue to make Meritage Wines with pureCru Winery, M.Coz (red) and PURETY (white).
Chris and I are huge fans of Mitch’s wines. We first discovered his wines at Cosentino Winery many many years ago. We had the privilege joining Mitch on a “Food and Wine Trails” cruise touring the eastern and western coasts of Italy. We have become friends over the years and every time we visit Napa we make sure to spend time with Mitch at his tasting room in downtown Napa.
Mitch and Chris during a wine dinner on the ship.
If you have a winemaker you would like me to interview or have questions please drop me an email at Bill@BillsWineWandering.com. Cheers!
Life is too short to drink crappy wine! Expand your palate and keep trying.