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Napa Valley cabernet as it should be: refined, concentrated and totally delicious. Cassis and vanilla on the nose leads to an intense, plum-packed palate with hints of blackberry and mocha, all backed by firm tannins.
Product Code: US8801
The US wine industry was shaken by Prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s, and though there were some post-Prohibition producers of note it was not until the 1960s that a number of new kid-on-the-block winemakers began to explore and demonstrate the true potential of its regions.California was the first new world region to be recognised internationally as a source of top-quality wines. The late Robert Mondavi is credited with educating Americans on the benefits of good wine and good food, and the pristine, visitor-friendly wineries in California, particularly in Napa, are now the model for wine tourism across the world. California has been stereotyped as a producer of big, blockbuster-style reds and fat, oaky whites, and while these wines do exist, elegance and subtlety also play their part, helped by the cool Pacific winds and fog that blow in from the west and are sucked into the valleys by the warm air there, with a cooling effect on vineyards as far as 50 miles inland. These fogs burn off in the heat of the morning sun so there is no risk of Sauternes-like botrytis here.The most appetising styles come from these cooler regions close to the cold Pacific inshore currents or linked to it by valleys that allow the passage of its moderating influence. Soils across California are varied and wines are made on many different latitudes along its length so this Pacific air conditioning system is perhaps the key defining feature of viticulture in the state. For example, the state’s Central Valley, a fertile agricultural heartland where citrus, orchard fruit and many other crops are grown, receives hardly any of this influence and is better known as a bulk producer of grapes for so called jug wines or the very big wine brands. Napa and Sonoma are two regions that dominate Californian wine, but other regions have gained an excellent reputation, particularly those south of San Francisco, such as Paso Robles, Monterey, Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Maria Valley, the last of which is closer to Los Angeles than it is San Francisco but where there are vineyard areas cooler than in the Napa Valley thanks to that Pacific influence. California's star red grape varieties are cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel, with good support from pinot noir, chardonnay and a number of Rhône varieties, too, though there is a willingness to experiment and many more varieties are coming on stream.The majority of wine-producing areas are now regulated by a local appellation system called AVAs or American Viticultural Areas. These AVAs are not as stringent in their controls on vine growing and wine production as those of the European Union, specifying only the geographical location of the area in question and requiring that any wines labelled as AVA must be made using 85% of grapes from that area. No limitations are imposed on the grape varieties grown, the yields produced, or how they are made into wine. To qualify for AVA status petitioners must show that the area under consideration is well known, that there are distinct climatic and geographical features that set it apart and that the boundaries have a historical basis. This is clearly no appellation controlée system as they have in France but it is a beginning.
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