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E Wine of the Week, Bruce Cochran

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Even More Trends in Blends

Hello Everyone,
This week we have our third installment in our March march through the world of winemakers’ favorite blending strategies. Many of the wines we see today are blended between different grape varieties, different vineyards or even different regions. This is a large part of what’s happening now in the wide world of wines.
Try a new wine this week!
Bruce

Stevenot Danza Roja
This month we’re talking about some of the new blends being created by winemakers in California. Week One we discussed how a Sonoma Valley winery is incorporating grapes from other parts of the state, and Week Two we saw how a Santa Maria Valley winery adds complexity by blending grapes from three different vineyards in the same valley, each making its own unique contribution.

This week we’ll travel to a California wine region that, in my opinion, deserves more attention than it’s been getting. It’s possible that current trends are swerving right into it. I’m talking about the Sierra Foothills, just about the only major California wine region that isn’t near the coast.

The foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are far inland from Napa and Sonoma. In fact, the vineyards there are probably closer to Lake Tahoe. The climate becomes noticeably hotter as you leave the coastal areas and drive across the interior of California. Once you start climbing the Sierra Foothills, the air get cooler again. That’s good for wine grapes.

You can find the usual chardonnay, cabernet and merlot there, but what many wine lovers find exciting about this region is how well other grape varieties do. Zinfandel was probably first, then Barbera. Renwood is an example for both.

A winery named Stevenot is selling wines made from grape varieties native to Spain. As with other European wine grapes (all of the aforementioned, plus others), growing them in California can combine fine Old World flavor with fruit-forward New World style. A lot of people like that combination.

Stevenot offers albarino—one of my favorite white wine grapes—as well as tempranillo, Spain’s most important red variety. Their “Danza Roja” 2005 is a blend of grenache (45%), tempranillo (12%), mourvedre (30%), syrah (7%) and graciano (6%). Some of these varieties are perhaps better known in France, but all are grown in Spain, and have been for a long time.

Stevenot Danza Roja has a deep purple/black color, rich flavors of black cherry and spice and a smooth, lingering finish. It retails for around $15 or so per bottle.

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