Californian wine will not be ignored, no matter how much some producers in the ‘old world’ might want it to be. It’s proven capable of delivering good value on the bargain basement shelves (depending on your taste), and also of making outright quality that can give anything from Europe some serious competition. And it’s not content just with taking aim at the likes of Bordeaux and Burgundy either. Plantings of Sangiovese have given producers in Tuscany something to think about, and Albariño vines could leave Galicia wondering how to stay ahead of the game.
If California has a ‘signature grape’ through, it’s probably Zinfandel, even if it’s a clone of Italy’s Primitivo. Sadly, many a wine drinker in the UK probably associates Zinfandel most closely with bank-account-friendly rosé, and overlooks its potential to make superb reds. Not wanting to fall into that trap myself, I decided to give this fleet-footed bovine a chance.
Glad I did too. The nose alone is worth savouring. Raspberries dominate it, and they’re wonderfully ripe, almost like you’re hovering over some freshly made, alocoholic raspberry coulis. Add a grating of dark chocolate, and just a tiny twist of pepper, and you’re there.
On the palate, the raspberries seem to give way to the other fruit promised by the label – dark cherries. I’d dare to suggest there are a few sour cherries thrown in too, perhaps also a few blueberries and blackberries. In brief, it’s an enticing, juicy medley of dark fruits, with a backdrop of chocolate and that touch of pepper.
Despite there being no obvious signs of oaking, the texture has a decided smoothness to it. There’s just enough tannin to tease your gums, and just enough acid to get your mouth watering and stop those tannins from out-staying their welcome. Very well judged.
So this is a very ‘fruit forward’ wine, which does not lack for complexity or character, and one which tantalises your mouth rather than trying to insist on taking up residence there. If this sounds like your thing, it’s a decent buy at the normal price of £9.99. At the offer price of £6.99, it’s a bargain.