A holiday gathering of friends found me back at Little Dom's in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. It's a cozy little spot with good food and a wine list which features a lot of labels I don't run across every day. Their selection of wines, for me, is enough of a reason to drop in occasionally. The food is an added bonus.
We were still getting our Christmas weather in L.A. - a little chilly. The sunbathing warmth that always occurs in time for the Rose Bowl had not yet arrived. Coat racks at the end of each booth - mere decoration for most of the year - were actually in full use this evening. It made me feel for a minute like it really was winter.
Genuine Risk is produced by Black Sheep Finds, the Lompoc-based wine project of the husband and wife team of Peter Hunken and Amy Christine. You may be familiar with their fabulous line of Holus Bolus Syrah and Pinot Noir.
The Genuine Risk '07 Merlot is actually a Bordeaux-style blend of 49% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. All the grapes hail from a single vineyard in Ballard Canyon, in the Santa Ynez Valley portion of the beautiful Santa Barbara County wine country. It sells for $14 by the glass at Little Dom's - around $23 per bottle retail.
The wine is dark in color and sports a nose which is dense and dark as well. Tons of blackberry and blueberry aromas just about knocked me over, with a trace of herbal and olive notes adding complexity. It's a brawny quaff, with a good tannic grip. The fruit is right up front on the palate and a slightly smoky bramble accent really sets it off. I think I had a pizza with it, but it was just something to pick at. The wine really stole the show.
Only 250 cases of Genuine Risk were produced, and Hunken tells me they have now moved into their '08 vintage, which blends the same grape varieties but in a more Cabernet-heavy fashion.