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..."
Prohibition shook America’s foundation. It turned men into mobsters, drove ladies to lawlessness and transformed bootleggers into heroes. Big House wines are inspired by these bootleggers who helped bring Prohibition to an end and paid their dues in the Big House. Established in 1990 in Monterey County California, Big House Wine Co. receives its namesake due to the close proximity to the Soledad Correctional Facility, A.K.A. “The Big House.” Their wines are crafted to deliver a fruit-forward style with an unrestrained full-mouth character that is big, bold and unapologetic. Just like their wines, the bootleggers of the roaring ’20s had big personalities, bold character and a rebellious spirit. And now, nearly a century after the start of the Prohibition Era, Big House Wine Co. pays homage to the giants of the era with wines that live up to their legend.
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 red 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 resulting in a wide variety of red wine styles. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a red wine blend 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.
How to Serve Red Wine
A common piece of advice is to serve red wine at “room temperature,” but this suggestion is imprecise. After all, room temperature in January is likely to be quite different than in August, even considering the possible effect of central heating and air conditioning systems. The proper temperature to aim for is 55° F to 60° F for lighter-bodied reds and 60° F to 65° F for fuller-bodied wines. How much does this matter?
How Long Does Red Wine Last?
Once opened and re-corked, a bottle stored in a cool, dark environment (like your fridge) will stay fresh and nicely drinkable for a day or two. There are products available that can extend that period by a couple of days. As for unopened bottles, optimal storage means keeping them on their sides in a moderately humid environment at about 57° F. Red wines stored in this manner will stay good – and possibly improve – for anywhere from one year to multiple decades. Assessing how long to hold on to a bottle is a complicated science. If you are planning long-term storage of your reds, seek the advice of a wine professional.