California Does Bordeaux

While most of the wines coming out of California are single varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, etc – some wineries make delicious blends – mostly red – based on the traditional grapes of Bordeaux. These include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot, though not all these varieties will necessarily appear in one wine. (For the whites, the grapes are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle.) Some wines are labeled “Meritage” (rhymes with “heritage”), a trademarked term coined by the Meritage Association in 1981. Others are simply labeled “red wine,” and you have to read the small print to know if it’s a Bordeaux-style blend. Here are some we tasted recently, all excellent.


Justin Isosceles Red Wine, 2010 (Paso Robles); $62

Deep garnet/magenta, with lush aromas of vanilla, chocolate, dark cherries, warm baking spices and a touch of anise; beautiful, rich and concentrated on the palate, with powerful fruit, solid tannins, and undercurrents of smoke and earth. Everything works together in perfect synergy.


Dry Creek “The Mariner” Red Meritage, 2009 (Dry Creek Valley); $45

Seductive Black Forest cake aroma with notes of eucalyptus and flowers; deep, concentrated, ripe berry flavor laced with dark chocolate and Bing cherries; full bodied with elegant balance and a lingering finish.


Franciscan Estate Magnificat Red Meritage, 2009 (Napa Valley); $50

Deep, inky color; bright, full, black raspberry aroma with balancing notes of leather and tobacco; rich and opulent with concentrated black fruit, licorice, and firm but balanced tannins.


Prices May Vary

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