PICK of the RACK: Jeff Runquist Wines | 1448 | Red Blend | California | 2010 | $20 | 86 pts

Aromas:  dried blueberries; black pepper; woodsmoke
Character:  dry; full-bodied; earthy; toasty; tangy; medium tannins and acids
Flavors:  spiced plum; fire-roasted tomato; cured tobacco; dark chocolate covered roasted coffee beans
Food Pairing: BBQ/smoked meats; hamburgers and other grilled fare; ratatouille; smoked cheeses


A Wine on the Barrelhead “Great Barbeque Red”

A few months back we visited Jeff Runquist’s rustic winery in California’s Sierra Foothills (just outside of the town of Plymouth, in the heart of Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley), and were struck by how fresh and vibrant his wines are.  Jeff is known for crafting hearty Amador County-grown Zinfandel and Barbera (the latter being our favorite red variety coming out of the Sierra Foothills these days), but he also makes an intriguing array of varietal wines from fruit sourced in other regions of California.  This wine – “1448” – is Jeff’s “kitchen sink” blend of left-over wines that don’t make it into his variety-designated bottlings.  The name refers to the elevation of Jeff’s winery – 1,448 feet above sea level.  The 2010 is a creative mélange of Petite Sirah, Barbera, and Zinfandel, along with a spattering of other varieties.  The result is a wine with spirited roasty – toasty – smoky flavors that explode on the palate and cry out for barbeque and other hearty meat dishes.  It’s a great barbeque red, for sure, and at around $20 the bottle makes for a great everyday wine, too.

Availability:  1448 is not always available on the winery’s website – www.jeffrunquistwines.com (you should visit the site anyway, for more information about Jeff’s winery and other wines), but if you call the winery – (209) 245-6282 – they’ll advise as to where you might find it in your area or how you may order it from the winery and have it shipped directly to your door.  Folks in Northern Virginia can find it in various Total Wine locations (call first, as, availability is limited), and many Virginia wine merchants can order it from The Country Vintner, a Virginia wine distributor.

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