Pop a cork on these Californian classics
While we’re starting to entertain thoughts of Christmas and the excitement a decent bottle of wine can bring to the table, the Americans are one step ahead and gearing up for Thanksgiving.
From California’s Napa Valley and Sonoma County to the Central Coast vineyard areas, this vast stretch of Pacific Coast is a goldmine for flavoursome, impressive and downright gorgeous wines.
The only drawback is that they often come at a premium.
So, what’s a value-minded wine lover to do who wants a made-in-the-USA tipple? Pick up one of these... 1. The Intrepid Bear Lodi Sauvignon Blanc 2017, California, USA (£10.99, Virgin Wines) Lodi is home to all of California’s leading varieties, and while it’s best known for its zinfandel, the combination of warm days and cool nights produces beautifully fresh whites such as this expressive sauvignon blanc.
There’s a flash of herbaceousness with tropical and lemony flavours, balanced by a lovely drink-me-now softness that gives the wine substance while still being clean and refreshing. 2. Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2016, California, USA (£17, The Wine Society) The Central Coast is the state’s largest wine region and its myriad of climates means just about every grape variety thrives here.
Fess Parker can be relied upon for lush, ripe chardonnay, and there’s penetrating Craft3 Zinfandel, California, £10, Marks & Spencer Berry Bros & Rudd Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, California, £24.95, Berry Bros & Rudd depth of flavour, with full-on pear-scented fruit leading into creamy baked apple, buttered toast and hints of creme brulee, with toasty oak and vital acidity lending a rich but soft, voluptuous finish. 3. Craft 3 Zinfandel 2017, California, USA (£10, Marks & Spencer, in-store only) The Californian sunshine loves zinfandel, and this is a berry smooth red with solid, spicy blackberry flavours and a beguiling forest floor of fruits on the nose. M&S doesn’t reveal precisely where the grapes in this wine come from, but if you like a dollop of brambly fruit with tiers of black pepper, liquorice, sweet vanilla and a rich, lingering finish, this is the zin to sin with. 4. Round the Blend 2015, California, USA (£13.99, Laithwaite’s) A rich blend that is best alongside food, with seven A-list grapes deftly blended to create a hearty, dinner-friendly red. Petite sirah headlines with its plummy nuances, while merlot, syrah (shiraz), zinfandel, mourvedre, tempranillo and carignan each play their role as the flavours rise to a crescendo. With a violet-scented bouquet, it’s primed for a celebratory roast with all the trimmings. 5. Berry Bros & Rudd Santa Barbara Pinot Noir 2016, California (£24.95, Berry Bros & Rudd) Pinot noir is one of California’s strongest suits, and ‘pinotphiles’ will be hard pushed to find a more refined and elegant pinot (within this price point) than Berry’s own, produced for them by one of California’s trailblazers, Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat. It’s floral and bright with a rose-scented bouquet and a red fruit character that’s hard to resist. Expect a rhapsody of raspberry and cherry fruit with a fine web of herbs and spice, a juicy concentration, wonderful silky texture and balanced acidity on the long finish. Sheer class in a glass. Fess Parker Chardonnay, California, £17, The Wine Society