Wine Filter: America

Hirsch Vineyards West Ridge Estate Pinot Noir

I have no doubt lives have been changed by this wine. Hirsch are among the most lauded California producers by Pinotphiles. Intense and complex, this is an expression of California as much as Pinot Noir. There’s inviting richness but also delicacy. Truffles and earth, but a New World heart of vibrant berry fruit.

Cherry Tart Pinot Noir

Here’s a quiz question: what is the word most likely to persuade someone to buy a bottle of wine? Answer? It’s “fruity”. That’s why wines like juicy, plush… “fruity” wines like this are so popular. Almost the definition of “easy drinking”, if you want to know how it tastes, look at the name. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Enjoy with a Friday night in front of the TV. Watching The Wine Show.

Haywire Pinot Noir

Two things you perhaps didn’t expect to hear in wine recommendations – Canada and concrete. Yet these are the secrets to this exceptional wine. The concrete captures the cool, raw, essence of Okanagan, leaving the wild, herbal, berry fruit naked for you to enjoy. The texture too is alive and exposed. Simple grills, roasted vegetables and mushrooms are this wine’s bedfellows.

Barra of Medocino Pinot Noir Rose

It’s crackers to think that a generation ago, rose was a flibbertigibbet footnote in the wine statistics. Today there are pinks of every hue and palates from the tangy to tropical. This is in the melon, peach, strawberry, fruit salad variety. Lots of juicy fruit and light on the herbal notes. A dry wine, lovely with salads and tortillas (I discovered) but with a sun-warmed fruit.

Barra of Medocino Petit Sirah

Brawny, bold and no holds barred. Petite Sirah is the signature grape at Barra and they don’t hold back. Mocha and leather wrap up a full-bodied palate of blackberry fruit and mocha flavours. You’ll need plenty of flavour to match up to this, and hearty mouthfeel too with lots of rippling, muscular tannins. It’s smooth, but in the way a V8 engine roar is smooth. This feels American and all the better for it.

Chronic Cellars Purple Paradise

“Synesthetic” tasting notes are ones where you mix up the senses. And this wine really does taste “purple”. It’s lush and exotic, spiced and rippling with fruit. It’s exuberantly ripe and juicy. Expect some people to look at you disapprovingly over their pince nez spectacles. But stuff ‘em. Have this with pulled pork and barbecue sauce, or a burger that sits firmly in the “dirty” category.

Fess Parker Pinot Noir

This eases you into the magical, supple, seductive world of Santa Barbara Pinot Noir. Once entered, never left. It’s not just the fruit – all cherries and cranberries – it’s the mace spice and earthy forest floor complexity. And then the texture. I suspect that’s what really hooks people. Velveteen but firm. Perfect with duck and beef and Asian spice and… well, it’s versatile.

Fess Parker Pinot Noir Rose

Drier, herbal, almost serious. This is aromatic and delicate with a lovely texture. Bigger and fruitier than Provencal rose, and perhaps less wild and garrigue-scented. But a great wine for spiced dishes and sashimi or seared tuna salad. Bone dry on the palate, but ripe and sweet on the nose. Put this sort of thing in a line up and show people the variety of rose. Although you may have to go to the winery to find it.

Debra Rose Zinfandel

Go… go to Santa Barbara and do what we did. We just walked into this funky looking tasting room and discovered a gem. You’ll not find the wines anywhere else, but you will walk away with a smile on your face. This was a joyful reinterpretation of Rose Zinfandel and a strawberry-ish delight. Municipal Wine won the prize for the best tasting room of series 2. And series 1. Probably series 3 too.

The Valley Project Santa Ynez Grenache Blanc

The Valley Project’s tasting room in Santa Barbara’s “Funk Zone” was the brainchild of renowned winemaker Seth Kunin. Tragically we heard he died in his sleep a few months after we visited. He was an inspiration behind the sense of adventure and exploration with varieties like this Grenache Blanc. Finding the perfect sites for this fleshy, dill-scented, attractive wine.

The Halcyon Riesling

Some of us like something sweeter. Softer. Richer. But it’s so hard to find. So, when you come across wines like this with its lightly-sweet style and sweet peach and lightly-honeyed style, hold them dear. Sweeter wines make wonderful companions to spicier dishes. But also this is gorgeous to sip through the evening. It’s aromatic, fragrant with a beautiful balance of lifted citrus freshness.

Humanitas Merlot Truchard Merlot

Why are people sniffy about Merlot? Is it because we can’t believe something delicious, easy, plush, inviting, supple… can also be serious? This is unashamedly juicy and rich, with a velveteen texture and a light peppery grip. Anthony Truchard is an Anglo and Europhile so gives his wines a freshness you don’t always see in the Napa Valley. That makes it a glorious Beef Wellington wine.

Fess Parker Chardonnay

The curious geography of California’s Central Coast lets winemakers experiment. To make the most of little valleys to bring out different styles. It’s the extremes of warm days that flesh out the pear fruit. And cold nights that keep tangy, crisp apple that make this distinctive. It’s oaky with baked pastry and made for roasted chicken, turkey, corn and pies.

Hitching Post Highliner Pinot Noir

The wine that caused the rumpus. When Miles raves about Pinot Noir in Sideways it’s the complex, weighty style of Santa Barbara and Santa Maria that’s so hypnotic. Black cherry and plum, dense but still silky. These are wines for posh burgers, roasted duck and Asian spiced rare beef salads. It’s also one to keep in the cupboard for a few months and crack open at Christmas.

Chardonnay, Bogle Vineyards 2013

California is the largest and most important wine region in the United States. Occupying the southern two-thirds of the country’s west coast, it spans almost ten degrees of latitude and 850 miles of coastline. With mountains, valleys, plains and plateaux, the state’s topography is as complex as its climate, offering winegrowers a bewildering choice of terroir.

Hand crafting wine is something Bogle winemakers have done for nearly 40 years now. With passion for both the art and science of making wine, Bogle create delicious wines to grace your table. The Bogle family takes advantage of many unique growing regions across the state of California, Clarksburg and Lodi being the most famous. These fields are tended under Bogle’s watchful eye and the fruit harvested from them adds diverse and complex flavours to their wines.

Clarksburg is the AVA that Bogle calls home, farming there for over 100 years. The combination of the fertile clay and pea soil, coupled with warm days and cooling breezes from the San Francisco Bay, this is a wonderful growing region for many varietals including Merlot, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Petite Sirah and Riesling.

Clarksburg Chardonnay’s signature apple and pear notes flourish in the incredible aromas and first sips of this wine. The rich, round entry is full of fruit, including touches of tropical pineapple and guava. The elegant and creamy mouthfeel wraps around the fruit and leads to spicy notes of nutmeg and toasty vanilla, left behind by over 8 months of gaining in American oak. There is perfectly-balanced acidity, which makes sure that it finishes clean and fresh, making you ready for another sip. It’s a superb wine!

Col Solare Red Wine 2011

Col Solare is a Bordeaux blend but made in a generously US style. Not Napa, but from one of Washington State’s finest and warmest appellations, and that comes through in the mocha and cherry and spice over the more familiar notes of blackcurrant. This has an Italian sensibility (made in partnership with the Marchesi Antinori) and is gorgeous with steak and salsa verde.

Frog’s Leap Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Pure, concentrated blackcurrant and cassis aromas are the spine on which this wine hangs complementary spice and oak aromas. Each terroir in Napa brings a little something and here it’s savoury olive. The soft tannins let this wine work with braised short ribs with a glossy sauce.

Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir 2011

Robert is a meticulous winemaker and you can taste that in this precise wine. It starts all full of cranberry and raspberry-bright, but then opens up on the palate to reveal darker, briar and spice notes. Match this with duck or char siu pork, or for something more adventurous a soy-seasoned grilled tuna dish.

Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

It has been said that there are more soil types in the Napa Valley than in the whole of France. So although Napa Cabernet is ubiquitous, it flexes and changes along the valley and into the hills. Here it’s lush with currants and cherries, but there are notes of star anise and cloves, match it with slow-roasted beef.

Stag’s Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Anyone looking for the perfect steak-chips- wine combo should head here. The blend of ripe currants and vanilla, oaky spice is delicious, whilst there is a good heft of ripe tannin to work with your (ideally, rare) steak. On the finish look for all the mocha, coconut and vanilla aromas from the barrels as the evolve.