California's Heritage Red Grapes

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  • By Amy Mullally
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California's Heritage Red Grapes

At our February 22nd Commuter Tasting at The Wine Country, our spotlight will be on California's heritage winemaking, focusing on traditional varietals that have often been pushed aside by Chardonnay and Cabernet.

Long before our obsession with Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, folks who made the trek out west from the old world and set up farms grew the grapes that came from their homeland.  These vines were the backbone of California wine production for many years, and only came to be identified in some cases relatively recently with DNA analysis. 

 

The popularity of the modern ‘International’ varieties has threatened some of these old genetics into near extinction.  It’s exciting to see some of the next generation winemakers along with a few multigenerational family growers keeping these intriguing wines going for us to enjoy!

 

Join us on Thursday, February 22nd to taste through some fantastic examples of a few of our heritage grape varieties.  Your mind will expand and your taste buds will thank you!

 

We will be pouring:

 

2016 Folk Machine, Valdiguie, Redwood Valley, Mendocino

In the early days of California vine growing, this grape was known as ‘Napa Gamay’.  DNA studies have revealed its’ true heritage as the delicate and heady aromatic grape of the French Alps, pronounced ‘Val-de-gay’.  Kenny Litkitprakong is one of our favorite winemakers, producing one of our best sellers, ‘Parts & Labor’, a fun little bistro blend.  This Valdiguie is the finest example I’ve tasted from the next generation producers here in California, and for such a reasonable price!  Fresh strawberry, red plum, and pretty carnation fill the nose, and on the palate, it’s all bright and juicy with a long finish.  This is a perfect patio sipper, and a must try if you’ve never tasted this grape.  Great with a bit of a chill as well!

$17.99 per bottle

 

2015 Wind Gap, ‘Soif’, Old Vine Red Wine, North Coast, CA

Pax Mahle makes such cool wines, we are always awaiting the new arrivals with great anticipation!  Soif is French for thirst, and thus the perfect name for this wine.  The blend is so alluring and zippy with rich raspberry, bright florals, a slight cured meaty note, nice acidity, and soft spice.  Light on its feet and best served chilled, this crazy blend of all old vine fruit includes Valdiguie, Zinfandel, Carignan, Petite Sirah, Dolcetto, Negroamaro, and Mourvedre that has gone through 100% carbonic maceration (intra-cellular fermentation) to give freshness, aromatics, and vibrancy.  The wine is then aged in concrete for texture and mouthfeel.   Crazy delicious! 

Price N/A

 

2016 Broc, Old Vine Carignan, Mendocino, CA

This delightful blend comes from some of the oldest vines in Mendocino: dark fruited and extracted with a nice grip and great acidity, laced with dried oregano, thyme, and hints of wild flowers, nutmeg and cinnamon.  I love this wine with braised pork shoulder and fresh garden herbs.  Another homerun from Chris Brockway!

Price N/A

 

2014 Andis, Primitivo, The Toy Vineyard, Amador County, CA

The Italian name for Zinfandel, Primitivo is genetically distinct from what we know here in modern day California as Zinfandel.  Sharing many of the same traits, but a little bit wild and earthy, Primitivo is still cultivated in a few pockets around the state and can be traced to our early Italian immigrants who settled the land in the late 1800s.  This bottling comes from the Toy Vineyard up in the Sierra Foothills where the genetic is still preserved in a few isolated vineyards.  Bursting from the glass with juicy strawberries, blackberry and boysenberry followed by creamy vanilla and a little briary note.  Not peppery, but smooth and unctuous, while still packing a punch!

$13.99 per bottle

 

2015 Summers, Charbono, Calistoga, Napa Valley

Once one of our workhorse varieties in the pioneer days, there are only 80 acres of this bold and bright variety left in California, and Summers takes the lead in quality and production with these old vines planted in Calistoga to bring us these delicious hearty and savory reds.  Rustic in the very best way, this Charbono is aged in American and French oak to complement the warm spices and meaty elements. This rich, full-bodied wine pairs wonderfully with roasted meats or gnocchi with tomato basil sauce.

$23.99 per bottle

 

 

California’s Heritage Red Grapes Tasting

Thursday Commuter Tasting, February 22nd 

At The Wine Country 4:30-6:45pm

Just $10 per person

 

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