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Six new California wine styles

Here's what to look out for...

Six new California wine styles

This page forms part of our larger article on new California wine trends, which first appeared in the California supplement of Decanter’s September 2016 issue.

Less is more

Joel Peterson, founder and winemaker, Ravenswood Winery ‘I see the trend towards less gigantic, lower alcohol wine continuing.

‘Winemakers are fermenting wines by picking the grapes when they are ready, rather than picking overripe grapes and then watering back, which produced such intense wines in the past. As a result the wines are now more brilliant and lively, with more interesting aromatics. Red wines in particular will show more red fruit, be fresher, more lively and be lower in alcohol.’

California wine styles, Joel Peterson

Joel Peterson, Ravenswood Winery

Luxury red blends

Mark Beringer, chief winemaker, Beringer Vineyards ‘An interesting trend that we’re embracing is the increased popularity of luxury red blends.

‘At Beringer, we recently launched our Quantum Red Blend made with grapes sourced from some of our finest vineyards across the Napa Valley. Demand is growing and I think it proves how popular these blended wines are becoming.’

Unusual varieties

Marcus Notaro, winemaker, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars ‘Wineries are producing more “off-the-beaten-path” wines that are exclusively available to members of their wine club.

‘We’re now making an Elia Rosé (100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the iconic Fay Vineyard) and a Semillon from the Rancho Chimiles vineyard. This trend allows winemakers to flex their creativity and show their passion.’

Poised Pinots

Mike Cox, winemaker, Schug Winery ‘As a Pinot Noir wine-grower of long standing, I’m optimistic that we’re seeing a return to the classic style of Pinot Noir. That means a style focused on elegance and fruit rather than an overbearing “Pinot for Cab drinkers”.’

California wine styles, Mike Cox

Mike Cox, Schug Winery

Fewer icons?

Michael Eddy, winemaker, Louis M Martini ‘We see people continuing to look for higher and higher quality wine, but we also see far less trophy-hunting. I hear this and we see it in our tasting room.

‘More and more people are really seeking out wines that are interesting to them, whether that means wines that are intense or unique, or whatever else it is that they appreciate most.’

California wine styles, Michael Eddy

Michael Eddy, Louis M Martini

ABC wines

Joel Peterson, founder and winemaker, Ravenswood Winery ‘Winemakers are moving away from grapes like Cabernet and Chardonnay, and we’ll start to see an increased look at ABC wines: Anything But Cabernet and Chardonnay.

‘Wines like Grenache Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, as well as interesting red grapes that aren’t thought of as traditional varieties although they have been planted in California for a long time. Some of the youngest and hottest winemakers are not making Cab and Chard.’

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