Pop a cork on th­ese Cal­i­for­nian clas­sics

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - DRINK -

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

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