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Wines of California

I think it is as a result of being a Brit that I have always had a slightly smudged relationship with Californian wine.  We are not conditioned to look to America for what we consider culture. France? Yes. Spain and Italy? Okay. But, for those of us who see wine as a product of culture, of regional identity and of the Artisan then America and California suffers. I have previously looked at imports from the US and found it very hard to discover wines of value and interest between the cheap, mass produced gloop of Blossom Hill and boutique, thousand dollar a bottle estates like Screaming Eagle.  Where is that middle ground between some one dimensional, blackcurranty fruit juice with little or no relevance to the true wine lover and the wines from Screaming Eaglel? I suppose we have a natural affinity with European wine. For geographical and historical reasons we have a deep connection to the wines of Bordeaux, Rioja and Porto. Less so the wines of South America and the Antipdoean nations, yet we have embraced those far more readily than those wine from the US and its star wine producing state of California.  The reason, I believe, is that middle ground - wines from California that taste great, that don't cost the earth.  However it seems that at last, we have access to such wines.  Here are a couple you absolutely must try:

 

Uvaggio Vermentino 2013 Lodi California USA

I tell you what, this is delicious stuff. If you thought that Californian white wines had more in common with butter, syrup, furniture polish and vanilla essence than grapes, then think again. This incarnation of Italian grape Vermentino is bursting with peaches in cream and pear drops with a weighty texture that is given a final kick up the backside by the sensation of biting into a lime. I know because I just tried doing it.

Birichino Grenache Besson Vineyard 2013 Central Coast California USA

Everything about this wine says 'you are in  safe hands' apart from the back label that is a bag of unnecessary guff.  That aside it looks great but  unassuming with its screw cap and sketched landscape label. It is 100% old vine Grenache but still a relatively moderate 13.5% alcohol which means it is going to ooze juicy fruit but not set your brain on fire. The Birichino 2013 Besson Vineyard Grenache oozes juicy cherry and raspberry fruit but as it turns out does set my brain on fire! Not, however,with an attack of ethanol but via the route of being utterly delectable. Fruit. length and character. Like a flyweight with the punch of a heavyweight, it offers power but also a sex appeal that makes it one of the most delicious red wines I've encountered this year. 

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