Thanksgiving is just around the corner for our friends over in America, so today we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to bring the wines from the USA into focus. There is a lot more to the USA wine scene than California. Not only do the Americans produce some of the tastiest wines available, but they also add a little flair to their presentation, something you will see with some of the bottle featured at the bottom of this page.
California’s climate allows a variety of styles to develop. Cool ocean breezes from the pacific and low morning mists shield the grapes from the sun, however vineyards in the central valley produce more heat, and the warmth and sunshine allow the grapes to ripen. Premium sites are also found in Oregon and Washington, which are more northern territories.
When you think of American wines, it’s easy to focus on one grape and one style in particular. That being Zinfandel, which is a large black grape, used to make off-dry fruity roses. However it is also used to make dry red wines, with flavours of black fruit, dried fruit and sweet spices, including blackberry’s, prunes, raisins and liquorice.
However Zinfandel is not the only grape to find its home among the stars and stripes. In the Napa Valley you will find Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The latter, often called Fume Blanc, the climate in California is often too warm to grow this grape while maintaining its herbaceous characteristics. However in the Napa Valley you find some interesting variations, including unoaked, lightly oaked or even heavily oaked variations.
In Carneros, Sonoma county and Oregon State you will be treated to lush smooth Pinot Noir, with all its lovely red-fruit flavours. Like Sauvignon Blanc, the warm sunshine of California often makes it difficult to grow this fussy grape, but the cooler characteristics of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County make it possible. A lot of the Californian Pinot Noirs will be more full bodied than their European counterparts. However more classic examples can be found further north in Oregon. The wines produced here often have more pronounced vegetal notes like leather, meat and leaves.
Although not as established as its Western friends, New York ranks third in grape production by volume, after California and Washington. It’s easy to see New York as a dense metropolis, more famous for fashion shows and sporting events than wine. However it’s continuing growth means it’s one to watch going forward. The four main growing regions of New York are the Lake Erie area, the Finger Lakes, The Hudson River region and the eastern end of Long Island. Producing an array of grapes including Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Two of my absolute favourite wines from the USA also represent two of our most colourful labels. First of all we have the Zinification Shiraz Zinfandel 2011, which is a genius blend of fantastic Zinfandel and premium Shiraz. A full, dense, wild representation of the grape that everyone just has to try.
I follow this up with the Gypsy Lee Rose White Zinfandel 2012, as you can see it’s as quirky a label as you are likely to experience. Frivolous, fun and packed with excitement. It’s a great party beverage, so serve this one chilled.