Some of our favorite wine finds over the last few years have been coming from the smaller Californian wineries that have been scouring the Golden State for forgotten vineyards in lesser known appellations, and applying some newfound love to make eye-catching wines. A lot of these wines take more of a lesson from European winemaking than what much of the 'Californian style' is known for; less aggressive new oak, more natural acidity and savory tones to the fruit, and often more restrained alcohol levels. This small husband and wife run winery has only been a full time project since the 2013 vintage, but early word of mouth through their dedicated mailing list customers has allowed them to grow their production to the point they can finally send a few morsels our way. One of their most noted wines has been, surprisingly, their Tempranillos, especially the single site bottling from Shake Ridge Ranch in the Amador Foothills. A healthy amount of Shake Ridge fruit goes in to this, as well as a smattering of juice from other parcels nearby. They also include a small portion of Graciano, which is a traditional component in classic Rioja but is rarely planted away from Spain. The resulting wine is one of the most Rioja-esque wines you will find away from the homeland, while still showing off plenty of Californian charm.
The aromas are mostly dark fruit skins and anise with hints of dark spice and strawberry, without much sweet red fruit showing thanks to a healthy portion of whole cluster fermentation (which includes the grape stems, a process more often done with Pinot Noir). With some time open the fruit and spice get warmer in tone, and even develop some subtle citrus tones. The palate is dark and tannic, a bit closed in the first hour or so, but rewards time with increasingly showy dark cherry and spice behind the walnut textured tannins and bright acidity. This never gets into the 'juicy' realm, but traditional Rioja never does either, and with a bit of patience this shows a lot of the flair found at those great old estates. Throw this in a decanter this Winter and enjoy where this one will take you.
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The Best of the Best.
We offering free tastings on these wines in the store every Thursday and Friday, and a 10% discount off the retail price through the duration of the day. Come on by and give them a try!