Big House Red Blend 2004
Another break-out hit for the recidivist partisans of this eclectic pan-Mediterranean blend. The varietal mix was altered just a tad this year and introduced a substantial amount of cabernet franc into the concoction. Big House Red is all about fragrance, spice and soft tannins. It has a fragrance of mint and garrigue, with insinuations of blackberry and the ubiquitous framboise. Not a wine that you would want to serve to the Queen (in virtue of its unregenerate rusticity), it is nevertheless a wine that is the perfect complement to barbecue, pasta, pizza and all of the major non-vegan groups.
"...It's really good, and proves that Randall Grahm continues to march to his own beat..."
The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces a good majority of the state's wine. This vast district stretches from San Francisco all the way to Santa Barbara along the coast, and reaches inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley.
Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including San Francisco Bay, Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley.
While the region could probably support almost any major grape varietiy, it is famous for a few. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are among the major ones. The Central Coast is home to many of the state's small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as larger producers also making exceptional wines.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.