(Illustration: Jack Dylan)
Last year, for the first time in history, the United States consumed more wine than any other country (even out-tippling France and Italy), and most of it came from California. Golden State wine is booming beyond U.S. borders, too. Global exports totalled a record-breaking $1.25 billion last year, and in Canada, sales of California wines were up 21 per cent over 2010 as our loonie hit parity with the U.S. dollar. There are some great new Rhône-inspired syrahs and grenaches from the rapidly growing Paso Robles region, but by and large California is sticking to what it does best—chardonnay, cabernet, merlot, zinfandel and pinot noir—but with more refinement. Winemakers are matching grapes to their ideal micro-climates, using sustainable growing practices to ensure healthier soils and correcting the over-oaking and excess alcohol heat that has marred the state’s signature wines. Many of these sophisticated standards are now hitting LCBO shelves. Here, nine of my favourites.
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