After a recent conversation with a friend where we bemoaned the state of affairs in the United States after (yet another) school shooting and unnecessary loss of innocent lives, I reflected on the fact that although things are definitely not ideal in the US - they do make a bloody good wine or two!
The US, in fact, is the fourth largest wine producing country in the world (after France, Italy & Spain) with over 800 million gallons of the good stuff produced. So why don't we see more of it then? Well simply put, because, with a population of 150 million people, they have such a strong domestic market, they don't have to export to survive (unlike us here in lil' ol' NZ)
When we think of US wine the area most commonly known for wine is California, with Napa and Sonoma being synonymous with American wine. But what if I told you that almost every American state made wine in some shape or form - yup it's true. Every. Single. State. However the breakdown is 85% comes from California, the next 10% comes from Washington State, New York State & Oregon & the final 5% comes from - well, everywhere else.
Wines from Washington, New York & Oregon are really growing in popularity and in renown as these more northerly and cooler states have the ability to provide wines in contrast to the ripe styles that come from warm California.
As a result of the fact that so much of US wine comes from California, it should come as no surprise that the top drops Americans love are Cab Sauv, Chardonnay and Zinfandel (mostly white "Zin").
I've talked about Robert Mondavi before and I have very little doubt that I will at some stage talk about him again. The Godfather of New World Wines, Robert Mondavi took on the snobbery of the old world wines and set about making wines that would make the world sit up and take notice. And boy did he! We as a new world wine nation owe Mr. Mondavi a debt of gratitude for his pioneering spirit. How best to honor the great man? Drink his wine - and you can start with this Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay available widely for $19 (seriously). Typical of warm climate Chardy this delish drop has flavours of baked apples and poached pears with a nice toasty oak that isn't overwhelming and oh so drinkable.
Remember I said American's love Zinfandel (or as the cool kids call it "Zin") well they do but they mostly drink White Zin. Personally, I avoid White Zin as it's much too sweet for my palette. I am told dry examples of White Zin exist but I've never encountered one so I stick to the red. The Sebastiani Zinfandel 2014 is a good example of a Red Zin. It's a big wine with lots of ripe raspberry flavours and pepper spiciness. Traditionally speaking these wines are medium bodied but the spiciness & flavours & alcohol makes it appear bigger than it actually is, this one is no exception with a large 14.8% ABV, so beware if you are having more than a glass as that higher alcohol can creep up on you! If you are looking to up your wine to the next level of gruntiness but are not quite at Cab Sauv just yet - try this Red Zinfandel for $20.
I'm pretty excited about this final wine the Charles Smith Boom Boom Syrah 2015 from Washington State for a number of reasons. Firstly the winemaker has the coolest story to tell ever. Originally from California, Charles Smith spend the 90's managing a Danish thrash metal group & toured Europe trying amazing wines as he went, when it came time to return home to the US, he opted on Washington state to start making one of his favourite varietals - Syrah.
Charles Smith makes some SERIOUS wine and under 6 different labels, but this wine is from the Charles Smith range which is a range of accessible wines to drink now. This "Boom Boom" is delicious - full of blueberry & hallmark Syrah spice with a "meatiness" to it that you would associate with Syrah's of the Rhone, the influence of Smith's time in Europe is definitely coming through. The other thing I love about this wine and the others in the range (Kung Fu Riesling & Eve Chardonnay) is the artwork. It's fun, funky, simple & eye-catching - this is most definitely my type of wine.
Click the link below to hear my chat on RadioLIVE and why I'm reccomending these amazing American wines.