It’s not often that I devote a whole blog post to a single wine, but I thought that this one was unusual, interesting and good enough to make an exception for.
The grape variety is Valdiguié, and the wine is from Monterey California. It is made by J Lohr, who gave it the name Wildflower and describe it on an informative page on their website. In the UK you can get it from various merchants from £11 to £15. I first tried a glass at a Turton Wines’ stand at a wine tasting, bought a bottle from them at £13.00, and then recently bought almost a case from The Daily Drinker for the sale price of £5.63 per bottle. That is the ideal way to discover and buy a wine that is new to you 🙂
Valdiguié used to be widely planted in Southern France, for its virtues of high yields and resistance to powdery mildew rather than the quality of its wine. Little remains. A similar story applies in California, where the grape was known as Napa Gamay. The tannins are slightly astringent, which some Californian producers counter by using carbonic maceration. This particular wine and vintage is 26% carbonic, which presumably gives rise to the boiled sweet flavours and Beaujolais comparisons mentioned below.
In appearance, this wine is slightly on the pale side of medium, and tinged with violet. The nose is refreshing, soft and delicate, with boiled sweet fruit flavours. Maybe a little cheesy on the nose too, but not unpleasantly so and it does not seem to translate to the palate. The light delicate fruit flavours were very much in evidence on the palate, soft and gentle. So far I could be describing a decent quality Beaujolais Villages, but this wine has more structure, and it is this aspect that adds interest for me. Considering the structural aspect, perhaps a better comparison is a Freisa from Piemonte. I do not agree with Lohr who suggest similarities to better cru Beaujolais. This wine has good acidity, and an astringency that is noticeable though nevertheless quite low. These elements make the wine refreshing, a little edgy and good with food. There is a some residual sugar on the palate, but it not excessive and nicely balanced by the acidity. This wine has an excellent length – my mouth has a pleasant aftertaste of raspberry 10 minutes and more after a few sips. It is recommended that you drink it chilled. It is good chilled, but also works well for me at normal red wine temperature. At warmer temperature, the fruit really increases a couple of notches in volume, and the acidity also becomes more marked. This is one of those rare wines that is both be a crowd-pleaser and holds interest for more serious wine-lovers. Is it good value for money? I think the normal price is about fair, and at £5.63 it is a bargain ****