Wine: Foggy Veil Red Wine
Grapes: Syrah (75 percent), grenache (25 percent)
Region: Santa Barbara County, Calif.
Availability: Trader Joe’s
In the glass: Foggy Veil wine is a deep dense garnet-red color with an opaque core going out into a slightly tinged red rim definition with high viscosity.
On the nose: The wine bursts forth with a pretty aromatic mix of assorted blackberry juice, crushed red plums, black cherries, phenolics, spice components, juniper bush, oregano, herbs de Provence and references of wood, crushed olive leaf and aniseed, with melted black licorice and fruity minerals underlying.
On the palate: There is tremendous richness upfront with lots of attractive crushed black fruits, especially plums, loganberries, elderberry fruit and sloe fruit, then comes spiced morello cherry juice, black tea, fig stew and licorice root. All this is going into the well-balanced midpalate, which also shows the serious structure in this wine, equaling out 14-plus percent alcohol with smooth tannins and tons of peppery fruit character. The finish is long, lingering on the palate for a good 25-plus seconds with yet more herbs, pepper and star-anise infused gunpowder tea.
Odds and ends: You may remember that great Rhone Valley magnum I described last week. Well, this is another wine that stood out in the syrah/grenache/Rhone category that I tasted through just after the new year. Foggy Veil comes from vineyards in Santa Barbara County, arguably the best area for these Rhone varietals to grow in the United States. Some of the best syrah- and grenache-based wines are made in the area just north of Santa Barbara up to San Luis Obispo and the climate is very similar to that of the southern Rhone Valley where these grape varieties are indigenous. Foggy Veil takes its name from the early morning fog that always seems to settle over the coastal ranges in California, when cool ocean air meets warmer airstreams of the foothills, thus creating a favorable climate for growing hardy grapes of this nature.
There are several so-called “Rhone Ranger” wines from this area that sell in the $40 to $50 range, but this nicely packaged bottle is just less than $13 at Trader Joe’s and a really superb value. Drink it through 2018.
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.