When the bods at California Wine released their export figures for 2017 it painted a misleading picture. They were down, both in volume and in value, and as a headline it didn’t look terrific. But that missed both the crippling of the GBP due to Brexit, and a 70% rise in the previous decade. There is nothing wrong with the Brits’ thirst for Cali wine, and a packed out London tasting last week was living proof.
California Wine has both trademark styles and innovative trials. Big, bruising Napa Cabs are delicious. I couldn’t have one everyday of my life, but something as luxurious as Mt Brave from the Mount Veeder area of Napa might change my mind. Now flip straight to Luna Vineyards subtle and fruit driven Sangiovese from just down the road and you’re in no doubt this is definitely not a one-trick-pony region.
Our cousins over the pond also know how to package their wines. It’s a foodie thing to say, that “the first taste is with the eye”, but one that is often missed in the wine trade. Too easily (and wrongly) dismissed as gimmicky, an interesting label draws you in, and Gallo’s Orin Swift’s gothic offerings, and Raymond Winery’s faux red velvet do just that.
The innovative spirit has led to the idea of wine-in-a-can becoming not only a reality, but a real option for wine drinkers. James Hocking Wine is importing the LarKan range, and I had my first sip of the 2016 Merlot. At £9.99 a can (half bottle size), the wine needs to be good and it is. Fruity, a bit oaky, decent body. A wine I’d happily drink at home, but now perfect for festival season.
Look, there is sometimes an issue with the price, mostly because Americans have known how good their wine is for years and are happy to pay for the quality. But if you don’t mind trading up a few quid, then Californian Wine is still as surprising as it is delicious. A nice combo for wine lovers.
To stock these wines or to find out where to purchase them where you live, contact the importers directly…
Mt Brave Cabernet Sauvignon @ Fells
Luna Vineyards Sangiovese @ Milton Sandford
Orin Swift @ E&J Gallo
Raymond Winery @ Hallgarten & Novum Wines
LarKan @ James Hocking Wine