I was browsing in Santa Monica's Wine Expo recently, and spotted a single bottle of wine rolling around in a bin. I thought, "That must be a pretty good one - they've been cleaned out of it!" I picked it up for a closer look and discovered it was a California Grenache, but not from Paso Robles or the Santa Rita Hills. It said Camarillo on the label. I knew there were wines produced in Camarillo, but I had never tasted any. Curiosity got the better of me, and I purchased the lonely, last bottle.
The Claudia Grenache is credited on the label as produced by Alonso Family Vineyards at Rolling Hills Vineyards of Camarillo. Alonso Family Vineyards are in Agua Dulce, in Southern California's Antelope Valley. A little detective work and a phone call to the 661 area code showed me that the grapes were actually sourced at the Alonso vineyard in Agua Dulce, and produced at Rolling Hills Vineyards in Camarillo, owned by Ed Pagor.
I was so curious because the wine has a distinctive flavor characteristic that I have only found in wines from the Antelope Valley. It's a very old-world take, with a lot of the earth in it and a touch of minerality.
The wine's color is see-through ruby, and the nose shows plenty of wood. There are a lot of bright, candy-cherry aromas. The taste is very candied-up, too. It's such a different style of cherry that it comes off as almost "fake," but in a good, earthy way. I found I enjoyed the wine much more toward the end of the glass than the beginning. I think I had to acclimate myself to the unusual characteristics. I have found that to be the case every time I went wine tasting in the Antelope Valley. The alcohol content is listed as 14.2% abv.
I understand that future vintages of the Alonso's wine will be produced closer to home, in the Agua Dulce area.