Wine: Jan Kris Paso Robles Riatta
Grapes: Sangiovese (80 percent), zinfandel (20 percent)
Region: Paso Robles, Calif.
Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquors
In the glass: Jan Kris Paso Robles Riatta has a nice firm garnet-red color with a semi-opaque core going out into a fine lightly garnet-tinged rim definition with a brick to clear meniscus and high viscosity.
On the nose: It has an intensely pungent cherry-blueberry compote opening salvo, but then expands to include sloe fruit, red cherries covered with milk chocolate and attractive fruit-driven minerality with hints of red flowers, allspice, coffee roast, mint leaves and oak.
On the palate: This is nothing short of a massive cherry fruit bomb, belying its initial appearance on the nose, as the mouth fills up with redolent crushed red and black cherry fruit, quite jammy or sweetish black and red fruit medley, as if you took a handful of mixed berries into your mouth at once, then again that nice raw chocolate character and touches of spice box and allspice. The midpalate is powerful with phenolic compounds, firm structured tannins, acidity and yet more black fruit extract going into a lengthy balanced and utterly delicious finish, leaving you wanting another taste.
Odds and ends: Coming from one of the truly great American viticultural areas in California, this Jan Kris full-bodied blended wine is quite a revelation. Paso Robles is in the Central Coast of California. It is home to a range of wineries, many that have been there since the latter part of the 19th century, which makes it one of the oldest wine regions of California. Jan Kris winery, which is not very old but entirely family owned, appears to have succeeded in blending two grape varieties that incidentally both originally come from Italy. Sangiovese, which many have tried to make work in California, but without particularly great results, and then the adapted variety of zinfandel, which was originally the primitivo, which I reviewed last week. While this is a most unusual marriage of varieties, it works like a charm, crafting a wine that is powerful, yet elegant and tremendously drinkable. Try this with a juicy burger right off the summer grill. Drink now through 2015.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.