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Laurel Glen REDS 2004
The 2004 REDS is about as rich a wine as you will ever find for under ten bucks. Long-time fans of REDS will remember that early on we threw the kitchen sink into the blend: some of the REDS of the 1990s contained shots of mourvedre, cinsault, pinot noir, and other miscellaneous grapes. But since 2000 we have concentrated our efforts on a series of remarkable vineyards that have become the core of REDS: zinfandel (60%), 117 year old carignane (30%), and petite sirah (10%).
Most winemakers involved with under - $10 wines work hard to make each vintage taste the same, assuming that the consumer of such wines has no sense of adventure. We, on the other hand, relish the vintage variations and feel it's our job to express not only the characteristics of our Lodi vineyards but also to make REDS reflective of each growing season. The 2003 REDS, coming from a cool and long growing season, was, then, restrained and full with dark plum fruit. The 2004 season, in contrast, was hot, early, and intense. We figured that all subtlety would have been burned out of the fruit, leaving us with a fruit bomb devoid of character and subtlety. Au contraire, al contrario.
The 2004 REDS is dark, broad with ripe fruit and deep with a focused intensity that is reminiscent of a full-throttle 2002 REDS. It's really quite an amazing wine. Like the 2002 estates wines, it might not be a typical Laurel Glen wine, but it sure is tasty, and it's an honest expression of what the vineyards and vintage gave us. And I'll proclaim it the finest REDS we have ever produced.
2004 REDS: not for the faint-of-heart!!
Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production, if California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine-producing nation. The state’s diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredibly wide-ranging selection of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from boutique to massive corporations, and price and quality are equally varied—plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Coast area, while Napa is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.
Just about every style of wine you can imagine is made in California, from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. Each AVA and sub-AVA has its own distinct personality. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other Bordeaux varieties dominate, as well as Sauvignon Blanc. Sonoma County is best known for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with Alsatian varieties such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, it is certain that any wine lover will find something to get excited about.
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 create complex wines with many different layers of flavors and aromas, or to create more balanced wines. For example, a variety that is soft and full-bodied may be combined with one that is lighter with naturally high acidity. 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.