Tuesday, 10 July 2012

J Lohr Wildflower: a summery red from California

I used to have quite a soft-spot for this wine and recently had the chance of tasting it for the first time in nearly two decades. In May I was representing some Californians at the London Wine Fair and just along from us was the J Lohr stand. It was great to have a chat and be reacquainted with a wine I'd enjoyed selling at Oddbins in the early 1990s. Back then it was called Wildflower Gamay and was a Californian alternative to decent quality or 'cru' Beaujolais.

It's a distinctively juicy wine with soft gentle tannins, but it's not made from the Gamay we know from Beaujolais, but a grape called Valdiguié or Gros Auxerrois (originally from southwest France) that used to be referred to as Napa Gamay. To avoid any confusion (it's not made from Gamay and it doesn't come from Napa) the wine is now labelled Wildflower Monterey County Valdiguié.

Anyway, I was thrilled to see it again and last week we enjoyed the bottle I was given at the fair with some sausages, mash and sauce diable from Rachel Khoo's Little Paris Kitchen cookery book (more about which another time). The wine's generous ripe aromatic fruit was delicious with the hot cayenne pepper in the sauce. Chilled briefly, with its refreshing acidity and fairly moderate alcohol (12.5 abv), it turned out to be an ideal choice on a warm summer evening. Time does fly, however, I look forward to enjoying Wildflower again soon.

Enotria is the UK importer and it is available for about £11.50 from Great Western Wine and various other independent merchants.

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