Having just moved from New York City where I spent the last eight years studying and delighting primarily in European wine, I’ve arrived in Los Angeles with quite of bit of exploring to do. I came to California to expand my horizons, and immerse myself in the abundance of fine wine being produced here. It is quite the task! Often times I feel I’m treading water in the open ocean. So many AVAs, so few rules. But the inability to grasp it has rendered me more determined than ever.
Normally, once the weather gets warm I turn my enjoyment to the cool climate, light-bodied reds of the Loire (red Sancerre- how sexy!) Valle d’Aosta, the Pfalz, and Alto Adige, which of course we also carry here at Woodland Hills Wine Co. But I want more. Out with the old, in with the new. So over the past couple of weekends, I’ve dedicated myself to coming up with a short list of California reds that appeal to my relentlessly Old-World palate. These are the two wines that totally hit the spot.
Wow. What a beauty. This is one of those ephemeral wines that seems like it’s almost dancing above your tongue. I brought this wine to Monterey last weekend and had it with a friend who runs the wine program at my former store in New York City. The Knez knocked both our socks off. Produced from fruit of the Cerise and Demuth vineyards (arguably some of the best parcels in the Anderson Valley) this Pinot graces your palate with flowers, sour cherry and lavender. It is soft and juicy yet structured. While it is perfect on its own, it’s also exceptionally food friendly, and paired surprisingly well with the fall-off-the-bone pork ribs we were having in the back yard on such a lovely Central Coast spring afternoon.
The second was actually a big surprise to me. I’m not generally running after heady, full-bodied California Cabernets but the 2007 Forman Cabernet got to me. I opened it up, craving a bolder red on a cool canyon night and what I got was a bright, velvety Cabernet with excellent structure, complexity, and a firm backbone of acidity. So gorgeously balanced. It started out with cassis, smoke, and violets. As it opened up I began to enjoy its full, almost mentholated mouthfeel, licorice and undeniable earthiness. It reminded me of a fine Pomerol or St. Emilion, and for a fraction of the price.
There are more Old-World styled Cali wines out there I am sure of it. I’m keeping my senses