Last week I tried an unusual California red wine from vintner John Holdredge. It's his 2005 Holdredge Schioppettino MacBryde Vineyard from the Russian River Valley. Schioppettino? Web resources Tom Hill and Alder Yarrow confirm it's a northeastern Italian variety that has, as most Italian grapes seem to have, several other names. I'll just say this is delicious wine, riding the line well between the new and old worlds.
There's obviously fruit here, though at 12.9% alcohol this certainly isn't typically ripe to overripe California red wine. There's also barrel influence, though I think a few years in the bottle have tamed it more than Tom Hill reports. One the first night, a group of tasters thought there might be some brett in the wine. I picked up a band aid note but we all agreed that, if it's there, it's "good" brett. Yet I'm not so sure. The next night I was able to enjoy the last third of the bottle. What a remarkable wine. Fragrant, peppery, savory with lovely black cherry fruit and great intensity without overt sweetness. The wine had great texture with firm acid, nice fruit, that savory peppery quality and some nice tannic thrust. I kept the last glass a long time, just smelling it and savoring each sip, loving this wine more than many I've tried recently. Alder suggests there's very little of the schioppettino planted, and I imagine that's true. This isn't an easy wine to find. Still, give it a look if this description intrigues you at all. I don't think I've tried any other Holdredge wine, but from this one alone I would happily try them all.