When it comes to New World wines, us Europeans can be rightfully accused of being somewhat haughty. Our sense of superiority on matters of bacchanalia comes on the heels of a good few millennia of wine-making, from the ancient Greeks and Romans to our Gallic cousins the French, who can claim to produce the world's finest fermented grape juice. It would be very easy to dismiss the likes of South African, American, Chilean and Argentinian wine, from the sozzled perch of Old World arrogance, but this would be miopic. When all is said and done, fine winemaking comes down to a handful of variables, namely growing expertise, weather and terroir. In short, plant the best vines in the most fertile soil, nurture them well and hope for the heavens to be kind.
In California's Sonoma County, which adjoins its more famous neighbour, the Napa Valley to the east, the weather and terroir combine to create some of the finest wine growing conditions in the world. While water is often in short supply in many areas, there is no shortage of wine-growing expertise, with many a great number of skilled vignerons swapping European climes for an altogether balmier way of life across the pond. Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to sample the delights of one of Sonoma County's most lauded winemakers, Vérité, part of the lauded Jackson Family Wines estate. With more than 50 "micro crus" across four appellations, Vigneron Pierre Seillan carefully crafts each blend of Vérité, and does so with critical acclaim. Seillan's expertise is in crafting Bordeaux-inspired wines that represent a meticulously formed union of grape varieties, climate, soil expression and winemaking technique. The wines have been highly acclaimed, receiving over fifteen 100-Point Scores from Robert Parker Wine Advocate. Impeccably balanced and sumptuously textured in their youth, they have the weight and foundation to age for many years and are deemed to be outstanding investor wines.