Great Britain

Seven sensationally different wines from California


o you think you know your Californian wines? Isn’t it all about oaky chardonnays, bold cabernet sauvignons and smoky/cherry fruit pinot noirs, together with the slightly love it or loathe it zinfandel? All very fine and dependable, but not exactly groundbreaking.

Well think again, because there are now some small players on the market, making really individual and distinctive wines with other grapes and working to organic and low intervention principles. Not the cheapest of wines, they are nevertheless worth checking out for their startling and individual qualities, particularly for celebration meals and occasions; perhaps like this week to celebrate the spirit of renewal and unification that has accompanied the inauguration of president Joe Biden. 

Although not many of these wines reach these shores, if you hunt around a bit you can find wines such as the remarkably different Jolie-Laide wines of Scott Schulz, who makes low intervention, organic, natural wines from grapes not normally found in California, such as the Sonoma County Pinot Gris 2018 (£28.00, an orange wine of amazing intensity and complexity, with flavours of dried oranges and apricots, nuts and seeds, and very dry and long on the finish – think of a lighter aged dry sherry and you won’t be far off.  Suitable for all kinds of foods: lighter meat dishes, hard cheeses and complex salads. And terrific arty labels as well… There are a few of their other wines sold by Roberson Wine here that are certainly worth exploring as well. 

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