1. Praxis: This is the label of Susan and Bill Arbios in SantaRosa for their wines made from purchased grapes. This comes from what is the oldest planting (20 yrs old) of Lagrein in Calif, down in the mtns to the East of SantaMaria (BienNacido??). These were not very expensive wines so I had low expectations. They well exceeded them. They had much the same earthy/loamy character I get out of AltoAdige Lagrein, but somewhat more fruit then those usually show. Quite nice & interesting wines.
2. Foradori: I was looking forward to trying these single-vnyd Teroldegos from ElisabettaForadori. I've always been a huge fan of her regular Teroldego. She also makes a high-end one ($60) called Granato that I don't like as well because it's a bit too international in style for me. These two Foradoris were more along the Granato lines, but I liked them quite a lot.
Elisabetta farms organic & biodynamic. She has supposedly gone over to the dark side and now ferments in amphorae and uses "natural" winemaking techniques. A friend recently tasted the new releases and thought they were badly flawed.
3. Terra d'Oro: This is the Amador outpost of SutterHome. Originally the MontevinaWnry that once made some of the greatest Amador wines ever. I stopped into their tasting room about 2 yrs ago and didn't find anything that particularly thrilled me....pretty light & boring in the SutterHome model. So I tried this wine on DarrellCorti's suggestion. Not a profound wine by any means but I was rather impressed by it showing more character than any other Terra d'Oro's I've tried of late.
4. Lagrein: This variety, found mostly in the AltoAdige, is a natural cross between Teroldego and an unknown/extinct variety. It is a sibling of Marzemino and a cousin of Syrah.
5. Teroldego: Is a very old variety from the Trentino. It is also a sibling of Dureza, one of the parents of Syrah. It is mostly grown in the CampoRotiliano of the Trentino area. The ones I've particularly liked have been those of ElisabettaForadori. It's a variety that resembles, to my taste, Refosco from Friuli, but not the tannic backbone. Maybe resembles also LaCrema di Morra d'Alba a bit. WolffVnyds in the EdnaVlly also grows Teroldego but I've never seen it to try. A very good variety that I hope gets more attention in Calif.
6. Charbono: This is a variety known as Charbonneau in the Savoie (never seen one from there). In SouthAmerica, it goes by the name of Bonarda, unrelated to the Italian variety of that name. It was once thought to be related to Piedmontese Dolcetto, but that turn out not to be the case.
I try most every Calif Charbono that I can get my hands on. It's a grape that reminds me of PetiteSirah a bit.... lots of color and tannins, a bit on the rough/rustic side, not a lot of fruit. I've liked the Turley's annd Tofanelli's that I've tried. This Harrington was one of the best I've ever had. It had more fruit and high-toned character than they usually show. It reminded me a bit of some of the old Inglenook Charbonos, but w/ less earthy/coarse character and much less oak. Sort of a Charbono made by a Pinot producer.
7. Harington: This is the wnry of BryanHarrington. Set in the industrial bottoms of South SanFrancisco...not exactly a tourist hot-spot...especially since Katie the Riveteer left the metalwork fab shop out front of the wnry. I first discovered Bryan's wines when I found out he was making Nebbiolo. I recently tried a bunch of his Pinots and liked them a lot...on a more elegant/refined scale than many from Calif. Maybe even...gasp...a "wine of balance"!!
Bryan has been experimenting with making some unusual/exotic varietals when he can track down the grapes. He and MattRorick/Forlorn-Hope are certainly birds of a feather when it comes to exotic varieties. I would suspect that it must be a real challange to a winemaker when a bin of Tannat or Teroldego shows up at your crushpad, you've never made the wine before, don't have a vast wealth of experience tasting others that are out there...but you know you gotta make a wine, hopefully good or even great, outta those grapes. Sorta like RobertRedford in "The Candidate" when he finds out he won the election.."Now what do we do??"
Anyway, I'm delighted w/ Bryan's (and Matt's) enthusiasm in pursuing these unusual varieties. Now if only he could track down Freisa...Tazzalenghe..Marzemino...Refosco...Brachetto.