Many wineries have long grown their grapes, but a growing number of career growers are making their own branded wines -- and doing an ever improving job of it -- rather than selling all their grapes to existing brands who would blend them into their wines, or using them entirely in the case of virtual wineries like our prior W.o.W., Waterstone.
One of our first Wines of the Week was Beckstoffer's Melee, from a grower that has started making several wines. Now, with another 152 tastes in the spit bucket from our visit to ZAP we've found another winner from a grower turned winemaker: Shake Ridge Red from Kraemer Family Wines.
The Kraemers grow their grapes in the Sierra Foothills. Their varietals are non-traditional, both for the self-stated purpose of being appropriate to the land they're grown on, and quite likley due to the fact that there's opportunity to be had in selling non-mainstream varietals to winemakers who want intriguing blends but can't grow the myriad varietals themselves.
While they make several wines, some under the Yorba label, the Kraemers' Shake Ridge Red is the one that caught our taste. The wine is an amalgamation of California-grown grapes from an assortment of heritages: Syrah, Primitivo, Petite Sirah, Mouvedre, Malbec, and Merlot. Roughly speaking that's The Rhone, Italy, Argentina, more Rhone and Bordeaux, in origin or popularity, making it something of a great U.N. of grapes. While we wouldn't have picked that blend unless blind-folded, the results demonstrate that the Kraemers have instincts far superior to our own.
Wine: Shake Ridge Red - Amador County Red Wine - 2007
Notes:Dark as the skin of a fully ripe wild plum. Noses of pomegranate-cherry-blueberry. Soft lush mouth with touch of coco and dusty spice toward the middle backing away like a receding wave to leave juicy fresh fruits in line with nose, along with a touch of tamarind, a bit of plum and pluot, and a note of dark chocolate on the finish.
Sells For: $28 Drinks Like: $35+
Where To Score It: Napa Valley Wine Exchange, K&L, and direct.