Of course, California comes to mind whenever American wine is the topic, but lately it seems like wine is vinified all across the USA. With a little research, I’ve convinced myself it’s true. Every state in the union now produces some type of wine. Whether it’s sweet pineapple wine in Hawaii or high-end pinot noir in Oregon, from Minnesota to Texas, Washington to New York and in between, wine is a growth industry. Consider a trip to the local winery while on vacation this summer—you can always give your purchases as gifts when you get home.
This month’s selections are available at France 44 Wines and Spirits, 4351 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-925-3252
Chateau St. Michelle “Rosé” 2006 (Washington), $11.99
Light, bright, and refreshing, this dry rosé is made like red wine, just not left as long on the skins. The strawberry and cherry nose and flavor just jump out. It has body, but when served chilled on a warm day, it is the perfect complement for a nice pork chop off the grill.
Hedges C.M.S. 2005 (Washington), $12.99
Chardonnay, marsanne, sauvignon blanc.
This wine is a delicious summer blend—not too oaked or heavy, but with tons of flavor and balance. It is a lot of wine for the money—you get the best from all three grapes: big, balanced chardonnay, a little nutmeg and vanilla from the marsanne, plus minerals and lemony acids from the sauvignon blanc. Pair it with a great piece of halibut.
Winehaven Merlot 2005 (Chisago City, Minnesota), $18.99
This is the best Minnesota wine I have ever had. It has big black cherry flavor, a bit of smoke, and nice soft tannin. Though the grapes are grown in California, you can proudly serve it with barbequed chicken off the grill and enjoy the fact that it’s made here.
Consilience Petite Sirah 2004 (Santa Barbara, California), $26.99
I like to say that petite sirah is neither. It’s not petite (it’s huge) or related to syrah/shiraz. As with zinfandel, California has taken ownership of the world’s petite sirah. This wine is giant, dark, and intense. If you are stuck in big California cabs, here is a way out. Full of intense fruit with pepper and spice, this wine holds up to any food you throw at it, but is best with stuff such as blue cheese on a juicy burger.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.