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ranchero cellarsWinemaker Amy Butler has a passion—for Carignan, the ignominious grape widely planted in the South of France because its high yield enables an ocean of cheap wine for export. It’s a strange passion to have, but often people with strange passions create beauty out of curiosities.

And indeed, she has tamed this rough, tannic, sometimes bitter grape like a ranchero breaks a horse while leaving a wild spirit behind to jolt the complacent.

Rich blackberry ensconced in lovely tarragon and clove-scented cedar  layered on top of fresh loam, a riveting nose of great intensity and depth.  The medium weight palate continues the dark fruit/wood theme exploding on the midpalate with generous acidity and finishing with medium grain, edgy, persistent tannins that support licorice notes as it fades. Structured and focused,yet still rustic despite the careful winemaking, this is quite young and still unruly but will integrate nicely with time in the bottle.

This is the richest Carignan I have tasted. A blend of Mendocino and Paso Robles fruit that undergoes whole-cluster fermentation and is aged in  30% new American oak, and 70% neutral French oak.

Only 154 cases made so get it soon.

Sophisticated but with a down-home grind like Templeton Thompson When I Get that Pony Rode

Score: 91

Price: $32

Alc: 14.2%

Industry Sample from Uncorked Ventures,  a wine club devoted to small wineries.

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