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Rainbow Ridge Wines Alicante Bouschet 2001
"The only Rainbow Ridge wine pro-duced so far is a $20 Alicante Bouschet, but Chardonnay and Merlot will follow, Costa says. All of the grapes come from a vineyard in Lodi that's owned by Costa's cousin. Before Costa started the winery with his business and life partner, Tom Beatty, the grapes were sold to Gallo and the Bronco Wine Company. Gay-themed or not, the Alicante Bouschet is quite good—one of the best of that variety I've ever had. I gave it a 91-point rating on Wine Enthusiast's 100-point scale. Costa says Rainbow Ridge started with Alicante because "it was something different and unique, like us gay people." Only 2,000 cases of the 2001 Alicante were produced, but Costa says Rainbow Ridge is aiming at producing 24,000 cases, of a range of varietals, by next year, with all of the grapes coming from his cousin's vineyard." -Wine Enthusiast
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.