Connoisseurs' Guide To California Wine
It seems, all too often, that the discussion of great California wines stops with Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, but, of late, there is a groundswell in consumer interest in other varieties, and this issue focuses on several that excel in their own right. Merlot and Syrah have survived rough times in the market and are once again getting the attention they warrant, and interest in Cabernet Franc is on the rise as a limited, but growing number of amazingly good e orts signal a breakthrough for home-grown versions of this classic Bordelaise variety. Two distinctive Italian grapes, Sangiovese and Barbera earn a place on the October marquee as well, and, while the latter is no newcomer to California, it is being taken seriously by more producers than ever before. As the California wine scene continues to evolve, diversity and choice have become important concerns for thoughtful wine drinkers of every stripe, and, as those in the business of growing and making our favorite beverage keep raising the quality bar and re ning what is, their willful exploring of less-traveled varietal avenues only adds to our excitement for what lies ahead.
DUE RAGAZZE d’SETA El Dorado County 2017
22% Petite Sirah. The red berry fruit of Barbera sits comfortably at center stage in the very clean and slightly juicy aromas and like-minded avors of this nicely tailored, slightly supple, medium-full-bodied wine. While properly rm and lightly tannic at the nish, it shows nothing in the way of Petite Sirah astringency despite the signi cant inclusion of said grape and is a polished, moderately rich rendition that is drinking a ably
Very limited availability
Medium Red. Balanced, good depty, medium tannin, Beef and lamb
GOOD VALUE $27.00
Drinkable now. Further bottle aging can improve this wine
Barbera has never been a mainstream variety in its own right and, owing to its typically high acidity, is more often than not used as a rming component in cheap blends. There are places, however, most notably in the Sierra Foothills,
where, thanks to the e orts of attentive growers and vintners, it produces bright and heady, energetically fruity, low-tannin red wines that are perfect complements to tomatoey pastas and stews as well as barbecued fare in tangy sauces.
The majority of California Barbera is grown in the hot southern end of the state’s Central Valley where it is employed as a high-acid variety useful in sundry, simple red blends, but, when cultivated in more hospitable climes, it produces rmly structured wines keyed on energetic, ripe berry fruit that are ideal partners to tomato-laced pastas, while a few are a bit more ambitious and succeed admirably with heartier fare. Amador and El Dorado counties lay claim to being particularly happy homes for Barbera, and, though it is found throughout the state, considerably less of it is now grown than in its heyday in the 1980s.
OCTOBER 2019. © 2019 by CONNOISSEURS’ GUIDE TO CALIFORNIA WINE. All Rights Reserved.
POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: Connoisseurs’ Guide [ISSN 0161-6668], P.O. Box 8, Pinole, California 94564. CONNOISSEURS’ GUIDE TO CALIFORNIA WINE is published monthly at 2691 Doidge Avenue, Pinole, California 94564 and is available only by subscription.
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