Independence day is the ideal time to highlight the breadth of America’s vinous offerings, writes Peter Ranscombe.
HAPPY fourth of July! While the United States’ independence from Great Britain may have begun with tea in Boston there will certainly be millions of Americans raising a glass of wine to celebrate their country’s birthday.
I love California and its wines, but today is also the ideal opportunity to cast our net wider and examine bottles produced in other states.
In fact, wine is made in each of the 50 American states – including Alaska.
The selection below is a good starting point from which to begin exploring America’s wines.
Hitching Post Perfect Set Pinot Noir, 2015 (£44 for the 2014, Woodwinters)
Aye, the winery is indeed just around the corner from the Hitching Post restaurant made famous in the 2004 film Sideways and is imported to the UK by Scottish wine merchant Woodwinters. I love the savoury nature of this wine, with aromas and flavours that remind me of tapenade and sun-dried tomatoes. The grapes come from the cooler climes of Santa Barbara, which is reflected in the wine’s fresh acidity. Look out for its wee brother too, the 2015 Hitching Post Hometown Pinot Noir (£26 for the 2016, Woodwinters), with sweeter spun sugar and spicier nutmeg and cinnamon on the finish.
Amity Pinot Noir (£19.50, Inverarity 1-2-1)
One of the highlights at Glasgow-based importer Inverarity Morton’s annual tasting back in the spring, this pinot noir from Oregon is lusher than the savoury Hitching Post, but still equally as delicious. Full of red cherry, ripe raspberry and spun sugar, it combines sweet and warm notes with a creamy and rounded mouthfeel, with a lick of strawberry jam on the finish. Oregon is a fantastic state to explore for pinot noir.
Secret Squirrel Red Wine, 2013 (£17.98, Costco)
It’s not often I get to try the wines from Costco, the chain of cavernous cash-and-carry-like membership stores in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but I’m always impressed when I do. Secret Squirrel’s Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot, cabernet franc and malbec delivers tonnes of juicy ripe fruit flavours from the Columbia Valley in Washington State. What’s most impressive though is the integration of the sweet new French oak in which 35% of the wine spent 22 months.
Barboursville Vineyards Cabernet Franc, 2014 (£45.50 a bottle, The Wine House Hotel 1821)
For me, ordering cabernet franc is always a bit like playing roulette – sometimes it’s mind-blowingly good, sometimes it’s simply horrible. The difference between the two is the ripeness of the fruit; when cab franc gets ripe, it produces delicious raspberry flavours and pencil lead aromas, but when it’s under-ripe it’s green and vegetal and yucky. Barboursville grows its cab franc on a cooler site near the sea in Virginia, but it still delivers deliciously ripe raspberry aromas and well-judged smoky and vanilla notes from its use of French oak barrels for ageing. Barboursville is owned by Italian wine giant Zonin and is available to drink in or takeaway at the company’s Wine House Hotel in Edinburgh.