Pete Ste­wart and Andy Gemmell

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Food+Drink -

On Thanks­giv­ing week­end, it would be re­miss of me to talk about any­thing other than Amer­i­can wine. Amer­ica has had a par­tic­u­larly che­quered past in terms of wine­mak­ing. Al­most ev­ery coun­try in the world can cite wartime in­flu­ences, de­pres­sion and phyl­lox­era vas­ta­trix as hav­ing a neg­a­tive ef­fect on their wine pro­duc­tion. Only Amer­ica had all of those things and pro­hi­bi­tion.

From 1920 un­til 1933 the sale and con­sump­tion of al­co­hol was banned in Amer­ica. Winer­ies were forced to close, and build­ings were torn down and equip­ment de­stroyed. The only ex­cep­tions were the few winer­ies which were al­lowed to make com­mu­nion wine. This re­sulted in the ef­fec­tive death of the in­dus­try, un­til the mid-1930s when Ernest and Julio Gallo set up their busi­ness. They now make around eighty mil­lion cases a year.

The Gal­los, and oth­ers like them, breathed life back into the in­dus­try, but it wasn’t un­til the 1970s that the qual­ity wines from Cal­i­for­nia be­gan to get no­ticed on a global scale.

The wines were world class which was proven at the Judg­ment of Paris tast­ing. This was a head to head blind tast­ing event where the best wines from France were put up against the New World pre­tenders. It was a con­test that Amer­ica was not sup­posed to win. But win they did. In the in­ter­ven­ing years, Amer­ica has gone from strength to strength and is cur­rently pro­duc­ing an ex­cit­ing se­lec­tion of top-shelf treat wines.

Stags Leap Wine Cel­lars Artemis Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon 2014 (Ma­jes­tic, £50). Stags Leap Wine Cel­lars won the Judge­ment of Paris in the red cat­e­gory with their SLV 1973. The Artemis is a mag­nif­i­cent Caber­net to en­joy with a medium rare fil­let steak.

Ravenswood Lodi Zinfandel 2014 (Ma­jes­tic, £14.99). Zinfandel has be­come Amer­ica’s sig­na­ture grape but can be quite in­con­sis­tent in terms of qual­ity. You need a good pro­ducer like Ravenswood to en­sure you get the best pos­si­ble wine, it is also ex­cel­lent value for money. Try it this week­end with veni­son. Cheers!

Pete Ste­wart is Glas­gow direc­tor of In­ver­ar­ity One to One, 185a Bath Street. www.in­ver­ar­i­ty­mor­ton.com

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