As you know, I've spent more and more time chasing after wines in our far end of the Valley recently than I ever expected to, but the fact is that I keep stumbling over really good efforts, some of which are better than average by just about any measure you want to use considering the prices asked. Now I'm wondering exactly what we're supposed to be calling this little pocket of wine country; in the eight years I've lived here I've never heard the geographical area identified specifically in reference to its viti/viniculture. Maybe there's something out there, but if not, perhaps the Shasta/Lassen Wine Trail fits as well as anything else; the two mountains are certainly our area's dominant geological and geographical features, and sort of anchor everything else, including the lakes and rivers. so I think I'll use it as a catch-all unless and until someone can correct me.
Anyway, we're pretty pleased to report that we've just had what may be one of the most promising reds to date, that wine being the 2012 Tehama County Zinfandel from Burnsini Vineyards, in Cottonwood, a small town just a long 2-iron and a pitching wedge south of Redding. This is a good little wine: color is deep purple-red, nose shows some blackberries-and-tar notes that are a bit closed for the first hour or so the wine is open but blossom out pretty quickly after, and the fruit is rustic and spicy, with just a tiny bit too much residual sugary-stuff on the finish at first, but that, too, seems to integrate itself into the wine with air. All-in-all a good effort that speaks well for the future, and a really nice surprise at $12.99 retail. Perfect wine for barbecue and burgers, which just happens to be one of our favorite ways to spend a summer evening, strangely enough...We'll find out more about Burnsini in the near future, as well as taking a look at some other of their wines, and pass it along; in the meantime, however, you can visit their website or call them at 530-347-4765 to learn about distribution or to order wine direct from the winery.
And, before we get off-track, another excellent example of upstate expertise from McNab Ridge, in Hopland: their superb 2012 Pinotage, the single bottle of which we were in possession disappearing quicker than any red wine we've opened in the recent past. Not to say that anyone in our little group embarassed themselves with a display of greed or selfishness, but at least one taster did come very close and will be more closely watched and supervised in the future. Be that as it may, however, the facts are these: the wine is medium-to-dark purple in color, with a nose of wild strawberries, blackberries, vanilla, and a hint of butterscotch that blossoms immediately as the cork is pulled, persisting as long as there's wine left. On the palate there is a load of ripe, lush fruit, with the strawberry-vanilla character of the bouquet carrying through, along with a hint of coconut and dried flowers on the finish. For those working on spring/summer wine lists, this is a gift: it will serve you well in many different situations, from cocktails and light hors d'oeuvres to lighter, gentler summer menu items that leave many red wine lovers slightly confused and desperate when trying to order something suitable and interesting. We recommend it highly. McNab's distribution still seems to be a bit spotty, so I suggest you go to to their website www.mcnabridge.com or call them at 707-744-1986 for information or to order direct.
In closing, more bad news for you Shasta UFO fans: still no activity to be seen, at least on our side of the old girl. Can't speak for the folks on the north side, but all seems quiet at present; generally, when anyone anywhere claims a sighting it makes all the news outlets in our part of the state, so chances are that there haven't been any portals opening or such goings-on recently. We'll keep our eyes open and ears to the ground, however, and update you periodically.
I'm out for now...