What is that wonderfully robust, floral and bright tropical taste? Is it green apple, tangerine or honeysuckle? Could it possibly be apricot, melon, pear or light vanilla? That's the Conundrum. Our proprietarily secretive blend of California white grapes create a lush, creamy texture that leads to the mouth-watering question, "Mmmm, what's in there?" We're not telling. Can you guess?
Conundrum's success as a unique, complex blend of white grapes from California continues with the 2008 vintage in this fresh, lively, deeply-flavored wine.
This is the first vintage to be produced at the new production-only Conundrum winery in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County. Our wine's core profile remains thoroughly Californian, with Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the Napa Valley, Muscat Canelli from Tulare County on the Central Coast, and Chardonnay and Viognier from our vineyards in Monterey County. The "puzzle" of Conundrum lies partly in guessing the range of grape varieties we use, because we never reveal its exact composition.
We continue to have success in the twist-top closure. As a winemaker and someone who insists on wines without faults, I believe this closure is the right tool to protect the aromas and flavors that developed in the vineyards and were preserved in the bottle.
Gorgeous aromas of apricot, honeysuckle, and vanilla and lime zest enhance a deeply-flavored palate of tropical fruit, peach, pear and honeydew melon flavors. The complexity of this wine is brought into balance with a rich, round, soft texture; fresh, supportive acidity; and a stunning, satisfying finish.
It was the summer of 1989, a year ripe with possibilities and promise. All around the globe, old ways of thinking were giving way to new ideas. In the culinary world, traditional dishes were being reinvented by a generation of chefs who were open to the possibility of exploring adventurous new cuisine. At Caymus, we were similarly inspired to break free of the norm and began to redefine white wine. And in 1989, Conundrum was born.
From our very first vintage we were determined to make a dramatically different white-wine blend that would surpass the scope of single-varietal wines. Just as chefs were exploring the fusion of flavors from classic to contemporary, from east to west, often combining savory, spicy, herbal and fruity flavors in one dish, we explored how non-traditional combinations of grape varietals would work together. We wanted each varietal to be distinctive but still complementary to blend as a whole. After experimenting with eleven different white wines, we chose a select few that we consider the 'key ingredients'. For over twenty years we have continued to perfect the fine art of blending a 'conundrum' of varietals together, to create a remarkably complex, yet harmonious symphony of flavors. More recently we adapted the same approach for the Conundrum Red blend creation when we released the first vintage in 2011.
To make each wine even more complex, we take great care in keeping each parcel of fruit separate throughout the entire winemaking process. As a result, when the time comes to blend the wine, we have a lot of diversity in aromas, flavors and textures to work with. That's when the creative juices begin to flow. The proportions of each varietal vary slightly each vintage, as Mother Nature hands us new "ingredients." But our goal is always the same: a highly styled, complex and delicious wine that is excellent as an apéritif and pairs beautifully with the wide-ranging, global dishes we are eating as chefs and home cooks experiment with new, cutting-edge cuisine.
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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 into 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.
What a difference a year makes! I prefer the 2008 Conundrum over 2009, which is much sweeter than to my liking. Although Conundrum drinks easily at first, I don't find myself going back to it like a CA Chardonnay or IT Gavi.
I'm almost a 'non-drinker.' However, I have an excellent palette that can recall wines for years. The Conundrum is a, well, Conundrum. It is not oaky, not buttery, not this, not that. And, in that list of 'nots' - it is not a wine for those preferring strong signature tastes. It's a delightful wine for - Sissies. I mean this in a good way, as many a party or other gathering will have their share of Sissies. It's fruity and light without being a Riesling or a Mosel. I do think it is a bit pricey for this mildness; but, supply and demand will determine that.
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 & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.