The viticultural history of wine in the state of California dates back to about 1680, when Jesuit missionaries from Spain planted grapes that were native to their homeland in their new world established missions in order to produce wine for religious services
After the end of Prohibition, wine production was known more for jug wines and sweet port-style wines. The wine market started showing preference to those produced in France, and California followed suit and started producing wines suited for finer palates. Forty-five years ago in May, the Judgement of Paris was held pitting California white wines and red wines against French fine wines.
The goal of the Judgement was to show that California was producing world class wine, however it was expected that the French wines would reign supreme. The wine world was rocked by the outcome when California’s Chateau Montelena 1973 Chardonnay, and Stag Leap’s Cellars 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon took the top awards for best white and red respectively. The world took a long good hard look at wine produced in California from that day forward.
California is indeed the largest producer of wine in the United States and as of 2021 accounts for 81 percent of overall US production. As of 2018, 57 percent of California’s grape tonnage was from red varieties,w with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Syrah leading the pack.
This weekend, October 1st and 2nd, City Vino will feature four California red wines in our weekly tasting, which includes two red blends, a Petite Sirah, and of course, a California Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our first wine is the 2018 Clos LaChance 22 Pirates Red Blend, which is comprised of 60 percent Syrah, 18 percent Petite Syrah, 9 percent Grenache, 7 percent Carignan, and 6 percent Cinsault. The wine displays flavors of rich, dark fruit, like plum and blackberry and aromas of baking spices, caramel, and chocolate. This is a full-bodied wine, with medium tannins and a long finish. Pairings for this wine include dishes like mushroom risotto, lamb stew, and grilled sausages.
Next in our California red line-up, is the 2018 Spellbound Petite Sirah. Petite Sirah, which is also known as Durif, is not a gentler Syrah but is the offspring of a crossing between Syrah and a grape called Peloursin. The clusters are much smaller than Syrah and produce a wine with a tendency for deep rich color, high tannins, and high acidity. Spellbound has that deep color one would expect from this variety, along with rich aromas of blackberries, blueberries, vanilla, and coffee. This juicy wine is medium- to full-bodied, with firm tannins. For pairings, due to its juiciness, try foods with Cajun seasonings, barbequed meats, and foods featuring rosemary, oregano, paprika, and more.
We are following up the Petite Syrah with the 2016 Taken Wine Co. Complicated Red Blend from the Central Coast of California. This wine is a “complicated” mix of 51 percent Grenache, 35 percent Syrah, 12 percent Carignan, and 2 percent Merlot. Aromas of ripe red fruit match the flavors of cherries and strawberries, surrounded by sweet and spicy oak flavors. This is a wine that would pair well with roasted chicken, pork, lamb, or veal. Asian or fruit-based seasoning, sauces, or marinades would pair well.
Our final wine is the 2018 Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, which hails from Paso Robles. This 100 percent t Cabernet Sauvignon has deep aromas of cassis, blueberry, cedar, anise, black olives, and juniper berries. On the palate, this is a full-bodied wine with flavors echoing the aromatics. The tannins are chewy and chalky, leading it to pair well with savory red meat dishes and cheeses like cheddar, blue cheese, and smoked gouda.
Join us this Friday or Saturday for California Dreamin’ on a Fall Day.