Gold Medal Winner: 2014 Los Angeles International Wine Competition
Well, at least this year we weren't "burning down da House," but it was an unusually long and cool season that led to berries with low yields and great concentration again. This Big House Red lives up to that old Fruit Bomb moniker that you've come to expect. It starts with a nose full of blackberries and raspberries, with hints of leather and spices. The palate is clean, exhibiting flavors of cranberries, roses and a touch of rhubarb. This finish lingers, with flavors of vanilla and a touch of dark cherries in the finish.
A true trup card, Big House Red pairs well with all grilled meats, lasagna Bolognese, grilled vegetables or even a sashimi grade Ahi tuna.
Big House Winery
The Big House wines were born of the notion that the California climate is quite hospitable to the rollicking, sun loving grapes of Mediterranean France, Italy and Spain. Big House has found that by blending, rather than relying upon a single variety, they can create far more complex, rich wines that elegantly match a very wide variety of cuisine, from pizza, to BBQ ribs to roast chicken.
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California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA
, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA
, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA
, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country unto itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.