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October 2020

Our Monthly Newsletter
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Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay may be the names writ largest in the minds of most fans of California wines, but they are far from being the only varieties that can provide great satisfaction, and this month we take time to survey recently resurgent Syrah and Merlot as well as a collection of delectable expatriates hailing from Italy and Spain, all of which help make California's vinous melting pot so endlessly fascinating.

Syrah is very justifiably regarded as one of the truly great, red-wine grapes of the world, and while we have been ardent believers of its future in California since its earliest days, local Syrahs are reaching new heights with every vintage.

Merlot is often seen as a softer, more convivial version of Cabernet Sauvignon, but it is a fine variety with a voice of its own that can yield both deep and complex, very ageworthy wines as well as affable and affordable efforts that do not require lengthy cellaring.

Good California Barbera is nothing new, but what is new is that there are so many well-made examples now available, and the current lot counts more than a few tasty efforts that will pair nicely with dishes ranging from barbecued fare to sundry weeknight pastas.

Renowned as the grape of Chianti and Brunello in Tuscany, Sangiovese has its very capable advocates here at home that are making noteworthy wines with a uniquely Californian accent.

An Italian white variety responsible for bright and lively whites in Sardinia and Liguria where it goes by the name of Pigato, Vermentino has developed a tiny cadre of true-believing vintners hereabouts whose efforts are well worth acquaintance.

Over the last decade or so, Tempranillo has attracted increasing attention in California as well it should, for, when grown in the right place and carefully made, it demonstrates why it is widely praised as the great red variety of Spain.

Yet another Spanish transplant, Albariño is stealthily finding a place in California and the Northwest, and it is a welcome addition to the roster of refreshing white wines that have a special affinity to the fresh seafoods that abound here on the Pacific Coast.

Riesling accounts for an exceptional number of out-and-out bargains in white wines running from bone dry versions to unctuously sweet, and, in advance of next month's issue that features new Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, we include a few recent favorites of each that hit the mark for fine value as smartly as that mark can be hit.

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