What will you think of when we mention California? [TMG Academy]

What will you think of when we mention California? California orange? For drinkers, it is reminiscent of bold and powerful California wine, especially from Napa County. Do you know about them?
California belongs to the Mediterranean climate with low temperature difference between summer and wine. The weather is warm and dry accompanied by plenty of sunshine. This leads to the grape ripening easily. The ripe grapes usually are turned into big wine with concentrated black fruit. Its tannin, alcohol level and body are all at a high level. However, if the grape is too ripe, the wine will be too jammy and off-balance.
Luckily the Pacific Ocean is next to California. The San Francisco Bay is also located south of Napa. They can bring cooling current and breeze to the area. Besides moderating the temperature, the acidity in the grape is retained and can balance to powerful fruit flavour. We have to remember two ‘C’ for the famous grapes in California: Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. They are popular and brilliant wines in California. In 1976 Judgement of Pairs, California wines were blind tasted together with French famous wineries like Chateau Mouton, Chateau Haut Brion, Domaine Leflavie, and Joseph Doruhin. Result? French wines got double-killed in both the red and white wine categories!
Though Cab and Chardonnay are legendary, we should not miss other great grapes varieties. Some of the cooler areas like Carneros can produce splendid Pinot Noir. According to the US wine law, even on the label stating Cabernet Sauvignon, there is 25% margin for blending other grapes. This is the same case for origin and vintage to have 15% and 5% margins respectively.
Why the price of US wines is usually high? Because of the cult wine culture. Some wineries produce extremely rare and limited wines with a super expensive price tag. If you wish to grab one directly from the winery? You have to wait for years or be blessed enough to win the lucky draw. Otherwise, the second-hand market is the only option. That’s the reason you can always find cult wine in wine auctions. Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate are two great examples.
About the author: Hei Cheng, WSET Diploma, free-lance wine column writer. 10 years wine industry working experience. Greater China brand ambassador. Hosted over 200 masterclasses.

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