More New Releases From California
Posted: April 08, 2009
March, California wine month, is quickly coming to a close. Here are a few more new releases I tasted recently that are worth seeking out. Don't worry - we'll still have (most of) them in stores next month. 2006 Seghesio Sangiovese I've had an ongoing discussion with a friend about New World wineries using Old World varietals to make New World wines. My friend always points out that while these wines are a nod to the heritage of the grape, they're almost never done in a classical style. Here's my simile: A California winery producing a Sangiovese is a lot like a heavy metal band playing a Sinatra tune. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? You tell me. The guys at the tasting with classically oriented palates didn't care for this wine as much as I did. I try to keep a sort of Taoist approach to tasting. My scribbled tasting notes say this: "Stewed tomato/jam -juicy. Some tannins at the end. New worldy." These are phrases I find myself using to describe hedonistic Spanish and Australian grenache, not dusty Italian sangiovese. I like it -totally worth the $25. 2004 White Rock Claret Not to lean too hard on the Rock and Roll metaphor, but the White Rock Claret is another modern rock star version of a classical style - the cabernet-heavy Bordeaux blend style. It shows huge fruit on the nose, even comparing to some bigger, more expensive Napa cabs we tried that afternoon. The wine is modern styled with big raspberry and plum fruit, and has great balance and depth without getting syrupy. Maybe a little quick to finish, but I suspect the restraint comes from the blend. It's $36.99 - a great price for this style of blend from Napa, where $100+ is common. 2007 Darioush Chardonnay This wine is just fantastic. Circumstance could have played a role in my delight - we had this one white wine following more than twenty increasingly heavy reds, and it was wonderfully refreshing. Still, I think this is a great example of how oak can be used effectively in chardonnay. I was surprised at how well the mellow fruits like pear and melon balance wonderfully with baking spices. The oak adds dimensions of complexity without cutting down on freshness and lift. $42.99 seems a little steep for a chardonnay, but this has a much more delicate and precise touch than some more heavy-handed chardonnay at this price level. Very much recommended, but supplies are limited. By the way, if anybody is interested in starting up a metal band that plays covers of Sinatra tunes, let me know.