California is the appellation for the following two red wines. That means the grapes can come from anywhere in the state. The following two wines are truly under the radar. They are really good examples of the kind of wines that can be found if you are adventuresome and willing to try new things.
2011 Harrington Red Wine California
This is a very unusual wine produced in a very small quantity of around 50 cases. It is halfPinot Noir and the other half is comprised of equal parts Lagrein, Teroldego and Charbono. So that alone should make it a candidate for under the radar wine of the year. But, that aside, this is a really terrific wine that is a great value.
Deep in color, the wine has a lovely perfume with spicy floral berry nuances and a briary undertone with a faint smokiness. Flavorful, with lots of sweet fruit it is supple and rounded with spicy briary nuances. Balanced and full bodied with an alcohol of 14.2 percent, this is a wine that also has a nice underlying crispness. Very easy to drink, it has early appeal and is a value – Outstanding. ($19.98)
2011 Juicy Rebound Juicy Villages Red Wine California
This wine is made mostly from Mourvèdre and is blended with Syrah and Grenache. There were about 100 cases produced. The Mourvèdre was grown in the Evanghelo vineyard in Contra Costa County. The vineyard was planted in 1880 and is in sand at the intersection of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. The vines are also unique for being head-pruned, non-irrigated, and on their original rootstock. The winemaker, Douglas Danielak, has worked this vineyard for many years. He has been winemaker at several wineries over the years and recently started this new brand, Juicy Villages.
The wine has a deep color and a lovely floral spice perfume with hints of smoke. It is a flavorful wine with 14.5 percent alcohol that is balanced and has lots of sweet plum and blackberry fruit showing faint tinges of spice and smokiness. Very appealing now, this is a very fine example of a California Rhone blend – Highly Recommended Plus. ($19.98)
This area of California spans a distance from Santa Barbara County in the South to the San Francisco Bay area in the North. It encompasses portions of 6 counties and has over 100,000 acres of vineyards. There is a large number of varietals planted, but the majority is Chardonnay.
2011 Chanin Wine Company Pinot Noir Los Alamos Santa Barbara County
This is simply a gorgeous Pinot Noir with complexity, finesse, flavor and balance. It is very pure and is a shining example of a new world Pinot Noir that beautifully expresses the varietal character of the grape while retaining its sense of place. The wine has a very nice color and a stunning perfume with floral spice tinges, cherry fruit, and a faint hint of green olive. It has loads of very pure cherry fruit with an underlying floral note and tinges of spice and green olive. With a great perfume and lots of finesse and elegance this is a Pinot Noir that is absolutely delicious – Outstanding Plus. ($50)
2009 Rangeland Red Wine The Watershed Paso Robles
The grapes for this wine come from the Adelaida Springs Ranch at the far western boundary of the Paso Robles appellation. The ranch is 12 miles from the ocean and situated at 1700 feet elevation. The watershed refers to the fact that the vineyard is planted on the watershed between the Jack Creek and Tablas Creek drainages. The 2009 vintage represents the first year for this wine, which is made from a Bordeaux style blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, and 24% Cabernet Franc. This is a very claret style wine that in balanced with 14.2% alcohol. It represents the type of wine that the Underground would like to see more of from this area (To visit the website click here).
Dark in color, the wine has a deep perfume of plums and berries with floral spice nuances and a tinge of cedar. It is rounded, lush, and supple with well integrated tannins and has great berry fruit showing hints of spice, cedar, and vanilla with a faint touch of mint. This is a lovely wine that drinks beautifully now, but should keep for many years – Outstanding. ($25)