January 17, 2022 5 min read
Since sometimes wine can be a little lacking in creativity, we have curated a list of 7 Unconventional California Wines to try in 2022.
It isn’t all that surprising that a product dating back to 7,000 BC is a little rooted in tradition. But, of course, there is nothing wrong with being down with old school. High-quality, well-made Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay are perfect everyday drinkersthat don’t give you much decision fatigue.
But hey, it’s a new year. It is time to try new things, reinvent yourself, and get that gym membership that you will use a few times in January and abandon come February. But, more importantly, we think it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and try some unique California wines from winemakers who are subverting the norm and challenging the status quo of what wine is.
This blog will give you our recommendations for some unique wines from here in California you should sip on in 2022.We will tell you what makes this wine unique and what we like about it.
Have you tried Pet-Nat? This new, not-so-new wine trend is sweeping the hipster bar scene by storm. It’s not quite Champagne, it tends to be a bit fruitier, and the bubbles are a lot less prickly. Pet Nat is more like still wine with a few bubbles, perfect with various foods. An Albariño, with its hit of acid and green fruit like apples and limes, is an ideal obscure grape to make some high-quality Pet Nat.
It’s fresh; it has bright acid; it goes well with food and tastes good on its own. Are you into tapas? Try the “Octopus” wine with some real octopus, the ultimate adventurous wine pairing. You won’t be disappointed.
See this article from Wine Enthusiast to learn more about the “Pet-Nat” style and how it differs from the traditional sparkling style.
This wine is a more classic bubbly but made with a unique variety. While most sparklings are made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Our friend Chis Christiansen took a gamble and made one out of Sauvignon Blanc. As producers of still Sauvignon Blanc, we know how good this grape can be. Bodkin wine does not disappoint.
See this article from Wine Folly to learn more about how sparkling wine is made.
First, it’s unlike any other sparkling wine. We dig innovation, especially with quality in mind, and Bodkin wines got that in droves. Give it a try with some oysters.
This wine is an Italian white blend, using grapes like Tokai Friulano and Ribolla Gialla (plus Chardonnay) from the heart of Napa Valley. Considering the kinds of $$ you can get for Napa Cab, planting white grapes is not just unique; it’s brave. Winemaker Dan Petroski for sure has some hutzpah, and the wine certainly backs it up.
It’s a bit of a middle finger to tradition to plant obscure wine in Napa Valley, and we respect that. But, also, to make Napa white wine successfully, you need to have the quality. And this is one of the premier white wines in California, not just Napa.
Semillon is popular in whites of Bordeaux for its texture and body. When aged, Semillon has these super-umami and honey notes. And winemaker Terry Leighton ages his wines for decades- that’s right, decades- before releasing. Currently, the youngest Semillon you can buy from Kalin is 2001.
First, this is a wine unlike any other in California. Simply speaking, it is full-bodied, rich, complex, bright in acid, and all-around delicious. But if you are used to classic, young California Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays, you may find this wine strange. It is not for everyone, just for the adventurous palates.
Like a Beaujolais, but with more elegance. Grignonlino is one of the old school Italian grapes that has been grown at the very inception of Napa Valley. But, as with just about any other grape, it has gone out of favor, replaced by Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. What a shame.
Heitz Cellars, one of the oldest and most esteemed wineries in Napa, produces this Grignolino, which is super light in tannins and has floral and spice notes that is more akin to a Gewurztraminer (white wine) than any red.
See this article from Forbes about the Grignolino grape variety.
The wine is fruity, light, tasty, and unfussy. No need to decant, no need to analyze, enjoy. If Napa is all about serious wines, then this is Napa’s antithesis.
Have you ever heard of a “Field Blend”? This style of wine is another ancient process that has gone out of favor in modern winemaking only to make a huge comeback. Basically, the grapes from old vineyards are planted together, picked together, and fermented together. The resulting wine has the complexities of a multitude of grapes. Ridge winery improvises on this process by producing a field blend that represents the ideal flavor of the Geyserville region.
See this article from Wine Enthusiast on more in-depth information about the “Field Blends”
A rich, complex wine from ancient vines. Ridge is known for knocking it out of the park, and this is just another example. Ridge is one of the older wineries, famed through its participation in the 1972 Judgement of Paris and the follow-up 1982 revisit they won with their Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon.
(and a little bonus+ some self-promotion)
The Prospecting series is our answer to the question, “what if we could make a unique wine every year from some incredible Cali vineyards?” This year, it is a Grenache, a red-fruited wine that is as delicious on its own as with a pork roast.
We like to drink our own Kool-Aid a little bit. But also, it’s a rarity for a brand like ours to do something like this. In a wine business world of profits, it is somewhat unconventional to release a new style of wine every year. But we do it and offer it to you at an affordable price.
So, there you have it. Unique wines in different ways but delicious across the board. Which ones will you try in 2022? Do you love exploring unique varieties, wine styles, and so forth? Or do you stick to tried-and-true wines you have had many times? Has any other unique variety come to mind? Please drop us a comment below and let us know
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