Our first reviews of the year hail from California, headlined by three relatively new wineries that support the wine country’s need to constantly renew and rethink the winegrowing proposition.
First up is Harmonique from Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, the far north of the state’s winemaking regions. Harmonique’s basic concept — making wines from pinot noir and chardonnay in a Burgundian fashion — is not new, but its approach is unusual in that Harmonique’s winemakers wait additional years to age and develop its wines before release.
Next, there is Cultivate, whose headquarters are a light-year away in Los Angeles. Cultivate says it looks back to the days of J. Peterman for a vision of the future — it searches the world and brings back exciting products, both through its Cultivate brand and its Terroir Selections, which imports wine from distant regions. Cultivate is headed by Charles Banks, former co-owner of cult winery Screaming Eagle (from "cult" to "Cultivate"?) and a business partner with super-sommelier Rajat Parr.
Mandolin’s concept is simple, but a welcome one — it produces well-made, affordable wines for everyday drinking from Monterey County and the Central Coast. A couple of older brands — Mount Veeder and Truchard — are making an appearance on this list as well, having shown their ability to survive through different paths.
A toast to the new year!