Another of my favorite California *heritage* varieties, Amy Butler makes wine for a variety of labels in Paso Robles and this is her personal label. At one time THE most heavily-planted wine grape in California AND South France, where it served the outstanding purpose of filling and amending more expensive varieties–and that speaks to its chameleon, yet un-obtrusive characteristics. I love Carignane, and seek it out whenever it is offered. This one is showing a tiny rim of garnet at 7, but otherwise a medium grade of not-crystal-clear ruby. Age also shows on the nose, where rich polish has been applied slightly to the fruit, rounding and richening it, adding cellar-qualities with leather and velvet to the trustworthy cherry, plum, and soft strawberry. The glint of gunpowder rises off a touch of earth, and the entire bouquet is just gorgeous.
In the mouth, there’s literally NOTHING any wine-lover couldn’t like. Fruit isn’t forward and cloying: but also isn’t terribly geeky. Dark streams of asphalt and floral dust, bee pollen and chamomile–possibly some orange-blossom honey stirred in–EVERYTHING designed to make the bed comfortable for the brilliant, perfectly-acidic fruit to lie in. Yes I just ended a sentence with a preposition. Chalky and dry, supple bitter nuances charm all sensors, making this another conundrum-wine: It’s SO clean and balanced, light and dancing, unburdened by overt-extraction or heat, and YET: green vivacious tannin introduce themselves early, basking *just behind* the plump fruit syrup and toasty oak kiss. This situation continues into the long finish, where the high notes of spring crispness from the entry are still visible, creating the perfect trifecta of fade-out: acid + ripeness + structure.
Good red wine just doesn’t get much better than this. People are always screaming about how hard it is to find good wines, and wine-writer never tires of feeding this seemingly confounding dilemma with charts and formulas and sponsored suggestions. But perfect wine is laying here right under your nose! For CHEAP! With a half-decade of age on it! Just gotta stop listening to #influencer saying, “Wine is mystifying,” and think on your own. There’s good wines all OVER the place: just have to poke around in the corners. And THINK for yourself. And for those of you still applying an asterisk to Paso wines: this is probably the LEAST *Paso Robles* wine I have ever had in my life. This is WORLD CLASS red wine. And to think it’s not any of the darling-childs of Paso fame: just plain old Carignan in a house-dress that will rock your world tonight. I love this wine.
2013 RANCHERO CELLARS Carignan Paso Robles 14.2