Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Big Wine, Small Price

You'll find one of America's biggest wineries in the tiny California town of Murphys.  Ironstone Vineyards is located east of Lodi in Calaveras County, in the Sierra Foothills along Highway 4 north of Douglas Flat, Vallecito and Angels Camp.  It may be an out-of-the-way stop, but there's a better than average chance that you've had some of their brands, or at least seen them on the supermarket shelf.

The Kautz Family are fourth-generation growers, not unusual in that part of the state, and the family-run winery's corporate officers are known simply as John, Gail, Kurt and Jack.

Leaping Horse Vineyards is one of their brands, and their 2016 California Red Blend brings a lot to the table.  The mix is 46% Zinfandel, 40% Merlot and 14% Petite Sirah.  That's an interesting lineup, and a winning one.  The wine saw only four months in French oak, but the wood was new.  Alcohol is restrained at 13.5% abv and the wine sells for $10 or less.

This modest red wine punches above its weight, or more accurately, above its price point.  It's not a status wine by any stretch of the imagination, but there is quite a bit going on for a $10 wine.  The grapes combine for a nose that's magnificent - full of campfire, caramel and a rack of spices.  Dark fruit flavors keep things sweet on the palate, while that four-month smattering of oak leaves a mark, but does not obliterate what the grapes have to offer.

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