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Wine Review: Overwhelmed by choices? Try these

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One of the joys of wine is the ability to pick and choose from a massive selection in the marketplace.

Walking down an aisle of wines at a store or reviewing a restaurant’s wine list can be a daunting and unnerving experience. Labels of all sizes, colors and even some with weird names all are seemingly shouting, “Try me!” Prices can range from the very affordable to unimaginably expensive.

Another variation that comes into play is the wine itself. While there may be specific varieties that appeal to us, just the names of the wine makers suggest there may be differences from one producer to another — and there is. Each winery has its own individual stylistic direction, which most definitely separates one from another. It is my job to point out wines and labels that deserve your attention and an escape from the “usual stuff.”

One winery I would like to call your attention to is Shannon Ridge, located in Lake County, California, an area that is becoming well-known for producing high-quality grapes for high-quality wines. While Shannon Ridge does make the familiar varieties, it also strays a bit and makes wines from lesser-known grapes. The beverages offer the enthusiastic wine sampler an opportunity to expand their horizons.
Shannon Ridge 2014 Barbera ($38)
Barbera is a variety that shines in Europe. It’s ancestral home is in and around the northern Italian city of Asti. The wine has an inky garnet color and presents the aromas of blueberries, wildflowers and oak. The flavor offers the sensation of ripe red summer fruits balanced by a firm oak backbone. The finish is one of the outstanding features of this wine, displaying the noticeable flavors of blueberries and blackberries. When well aged, as this one is, the wine takes on an incredible mellowness. This wine is great with spicy meat dishes and those accompanied by a red sauce.

Shannon Ridge 2014 Tempranillo ($38)
Tempranillo is of northern Spanish origin and is just beginning to find popularity among our California vintners. One of the earliest vintners in the United States to work with this grape was Shannon Ridge. Its Lake County plantings of this grape allow it to grow in conditions similar to its original homeland, but with the added nuances of California soil. The results are striking. The Shannon Ridge 2014 Tempranillo is a medium-bodied dry red wine with lush, velvety plum fruit flavors that are highlighted by an understated, but delicate, oak aroma. An interesting thing about wines made from the tempranillo grape is they are capable of incredibly long lives. This is a versatile food wine but stands out when served with herb-roasted chicken, leg of lamb or grilled pork.

Shannon Ridge High Elevation Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($23)
Sauvignon blanc wines are often an afterthought at most wineries, but not so at Shannon Ridge. The wine opens with the aromas of citrus and mango, which lead to a positive peach flavor that ends in a dramatic mineral effect. If you have tried sauvignon blanc in the past and have been turned off by the grassy and vegetative aromas and flavors, try this wine; it is totally different.

Shannon Ridge High Elevation Petite Sirah 2015 ($23)
This wine is deep in color and displays the aroma of boysenberry and blueberries, which heralds the flavors of spice accentuated by a suggestion of oak. The wine blends in well wherever a red wine is called for without being too overpowering or assertive. Pardon the rather obvious statement, but this wine is magnificent with the highly spiced foods from south of our border or with Cajun dishes and barbecues.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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