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American Wines

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The first Europeans to land in America called it Vinland because of the abundance of grapes they found there. Now we are biased, but we kind of wish this had stuck. Although it would have been potentially confusing (what with Finland and all) it trips of the tongue somewhat more easily than United States of America. Like most things in North America, the wine industry is big. They are the fourth largest producer in the world and California alone produces twice as much wine as Australia. Not only are the volumes big, but the wines are big too; you’ll find very few shrinking violets here. However, in truth, you can find almost anything you want in America...

The American wine industry is one of polar opposites, those who do it for love and those who do it purely for business, huge operations and tiny family run wineries, what we would describe as cheap and nasty all the way to some of the world’s finest wines commanding over £100 a bottle, classic Bordeaux blends to the downright crazy, it's all here. Sorry if you came here looking for a concise “American wines in a nutshell” explanation, it simply can’t be done, we recommend biting the bullet and diving in. 

One thing we will say before we go though, is that although California is king, watch this space because we have some incredible wines  from New York’s Finger Lakes and Long Island coming soon...

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13 Item(s)

  1. Le Cigare Volant Bonny Doon Vineyards American White Wine

    Bonny Doon Vineyards Le Cigare Volant Blanc 2013

    £30.00

    £30.00

    It's one thing to have a knack for something, but Californian vintner Randall Grahm has a very peculiar knack for bringing traditional and more out-there techniques together to create a kind of beautiful third dimension. Whilst he studiously replicates the grape blends of France's Rhône Valley - earning himself the nickname 'The Rhône Ranger' - he also calls upon the astronomical calendar when attending to his beloved vines. Like a Zen master, he doesn't interfere with the process, preferring to let nature (wild yeasts) to do the work (fermentation). In the case of this white Rhône blend, this has resulted in transcendent finesse, with mystical aromas of lavender and quince, leading to a palate of mango and pear. Out of this world.

  2. De Loach Heritage Reserve Chardonnay 2013

    De Loach Heritage Reserve Chardonnay 2013

    £14.00

    £14.00

    And it's nil-nil at half time here at the Britannia Stadium, where Stoke City are playing Biodynamo Moscow. And what's going on here - the Moscow keeper has dug a hole in his penalty area and taken out a cow's horn full of dried poo. Oh my goodness, he's now spreading it all over Biodynamo's half of the pitch, and while we wait for kick-off he's planting vicia to bring rejuvenating nitrogen to the soil.

    Well, Brian, after twenty years of football commentary I have never witnessed this kind of behaviour during an international friendly. The keeper's miles away from his goal, but that doesn't matter because Stoke City can't get past his luxurious crop of vines!

    And at the full-time whistle it's off to the changing rooms to enjoy a glass of the Stadium's delicious house white wine. It's a Chardonnay, with gorgeous tropical fruit flavours enriched with orange blossom and melon. Now that's what I call a result!

  3. De  Loach Heritage Reserve Zinfandel White Wine

    De Loach Heritage Reserve Zinfandel 2015

    £14.00

    £14.00

    Zinfandel, it's the all-American grape whose bright and bold red fruit flavours bring the Californian sun to Blighty, right? Erm, no. In the 1970s, a USA expert confirmed that the grape was genetically identical to Italy's Primitivo grape and, in 1998, the University of California launched an enquiry, now known as the 'Zinquest', that further matched Zinfandel/Primitivo's DNA profile to a grape grown to the north of the Croatian town of Split, known locally as Crljenak Kaštelanski.

    And then they found it again, south of Split, under the local name of Pribidrag. Very local indeed, in fact, as the entire growth was in an old lady's back garden! Investigations continue to this day, but in the meantime just sit back and relax in the warmth of this hearty, juicy and spice-infused down-home American red wine.

  4. Edmeades Zinfandel 2013 Californian Red Wine

    Edmeades Mendocino Zinfandel 2013

    £17.50

    £17.50

    The sin of Zin dun dun dah! Yep, Zinfandel was a bit of a rebel back in the day, as synonymous with the Prohibition era as Al Capone, Tommy Guns and the films of Robert De Nero... except for Meet the Parents, god that was an awful film. Anyway, those poor booze deprived Americans started fermenting Zin in their bath tubs making it super strong, pretty sweet & everyone got jollier than before they banned the stuff. Thank goodness, they repealed prohibition otherwise Zinfandel may have stayed overly sweet, rocket-fuel and we may never have seen examples such as this one; Elegant and sophisticated with subtle tannins and refreshing acidity. Now the only sin would be to not try it!

  5. La Crema Chardonnay 2014 Californian White Wine

    La Crema Chardonnay 2014

    £18.50

    £18.50

    Careful with the cork, now. Pop. And close your eyes. Warm scents of cherry pie and cocoa. Black tea from nearby cafés in avenues of plum and pomegranate. You're nearby the ocean, soft heat rising from the earth. Hear the wash of the waves. Water breaking gently into foam. Cream. Like the surface of fine coffee. La Crema, as they call it on the Sonoma Coast.

  6. McManis Chardonnay

    McManis Chardonnay 2015

    £12.75

    £12.75

    Anyone hoping for a Scottish Chardonnay may have had their hopes fleetingly raised upon seeing the name on this bottle. No wineries up there yet, but give it a few years - we're living in a climate of climate change.

    This bottle is of course made in California and McManis is the family name of the vineyard from where this Chardonnay comes. This is the rich and full-bodied style of Chardonnay that true Chard-heads demand. McDougal?, McTavish?; - McManis - Chardonn-Aye!

  7. McManis Pinot Noir 2015

    McManis Pinot Noir 2015

    £12.75

    £12.75

    For the brilliant price tag - especially given its grape and country of origin - this wine is soft, gentle, smooth, curvaceous... Probably time to stop with that metaphor.

    Anyway we're talking hallmark Pinot Noir character here with coquettish red berry fruit and just a waft of soft vanilla. A wonderful wine to tuck into after a long week on a relaxing Friday night and a great example of Pinot Noir that's easier on the wallet without the associated risks of too much acid and not enough fruit.

  8. Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

    Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

    £140.00

    £140.00

    Now we don't want to start a bar room brawl and we are massive fans of French wine, but the British do love an underdog and the story of Ridge's Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon appeals to our sensibilities.

    The 1971 vintage was one of the Californian wines that beat its French opponents in 1976's Judgement of Paris blind tasting, which upset the apple cart somewhat over the Channel and cemented California's reputation for being world-class winemakers. The cool 2011 season turned out a pristine vintage of Monte Bello, made from Cabernet Sauvignon.

  9. Sierra Creek Red NV American Wine

    Sierra Creek Red NV

    Now £6.08

    Was £6.75

    £6.08

    Sometimes you just want to turn the radio on and let somebody else make your mind up for you. You've made mind-bending decisions all day, you don't want to come home and choose between Stockhausen and Ornette Coleman. Just press a button and dig what comes out, you'll like it more than you expected.

    Like this wine, it's smooth, fruity and friendly, and it doesn't want you to beat yourself up looking for a greater profundity. There you go, 'don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy...' Perfect. You didn't even know the Eagles were so good. Everything is splendid.

  10. Sierra Creek White Wine NV USA

    Sierra Creek White NV

    Now £6.08

    Was £6.75

    £6.08

    It's a happy little chappy is this wine. Like a gregarious mate, you can take it anywhere and it's guaranteed to quickly raise a smile with its easy charm and its bright, sunny character, full of the blissful Californian sun. Its ripe yellow plum and cantaloupe melon flavours would buddy up easily with a spicy vegetable stir-fry, ideally with a bunch of old friends, a comfy sofa and a Shirley Valentine DVD.

  11. Sierra Creek White Zinfandel Rose NV

    Sierra Creek White Zinfandel Rosé NV

    £7.00

    £7.00

    Everyone is guilty of a little white lie now and then. Zimilarly, how many of uz don't commit the odd zin? But maybe it all dependz on intention. It might juzt be mizchief, or joie de vivre; or perhapz you do it to make zomeone feel better. But iz there really any harm in it?

    Of courze, big zins are different. Dark and intenze, they can often leave a bitter tazte in the mouth. Rezt azzured, though, no one iz going to hold it againzt you if you zuccumb now and then to a little white zin. Or, zhould we zay a little pink zin, perhapz?

  12. World's End Against the Wind 2010

    World's End Against the Wind 2010

    £49.00

    £49.00

    Jonathan Maltus has his feet in two camps: one at Château Teyssier, where he found fame as an avant-garde, 'garragiste' winemaker, and one in the Napa Valley, where he makes the stonking World' End wines, which have a discernible French lilt, like Little Sister. This Cabernet Franc has gorgeously rounded corners, and has oceans of sweet raspberry, coffee and mocha flavours and a structure to put the Golden Gate Bridge to shame. Californian heaven.

  13. World's End Little Sister 2010

    World's End Little Sister 2010

    £49.00

    £49.00

    If Jonathan Maltus made Merlot, it would probably be the best Merlot in the world. Oh, wait, he does... and some people might think it is.

    Made in some of the best vineyards in California, by Mr Maltus, who is hailed as a 'visionary' by critic Robert Parker, it is a fleshy, luscious Merlot, with nuanced plum, damson and black cherry fruit and an interesting green olive twist.

    Put it this way: if you put us in a room with a bottle of this and a slab of decent mature cheddar, you wouldn't see us for a long, long time...

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