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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 incredible range of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from tiny, family-owned boutiques to massive corporations, and price and production are equally varied. Plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Valley area, while Napa Valley is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.
Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) and sub-AVA of has its own distinct personality, allowing California to produce wine of every fashion: from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate vineyard acreage. Sonoma County is best known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône Blends blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with cool climate varieties such as Pinot noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, any wine lover will find something to get excited about here.
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.