The next to last wine at our weekly blind tasting elicited smiles and enthusiastic praise from the tasters. A beautiful dark yet luminous purple/dark red color was followed by an exciting bouquet of smoke, leather, and ripe red fruits, all intermingling in a most satisfying manner. In the mouth the wine exhibited Old World minerality, an abundance, but not excess of, red berry flavors, and a finish with rich, round, chewy tannins. An excellent wine from start to finish. A certain elegance and harmony of texture and flavor lead most of us to think it to be of European origin—possibly Northeastern Italy or Southwest France. Estimates of the wine’s retail value ran from $34 to $40 a bottle. What a delightful surprise that the wine is made from grapes grown not in Northern Italy but Northern California—specifically the Mendocino County. The name of the winery is Lioco and the wine, named Indica, is a blend of two ancient Southern French grapes—Carignan and Mourvedre—and California’s own Petite Syrah. The principal grape is Carignan which constitutes two-thirds of the blend. It turns out that some outrageously old and outstanding Carignan is farmed organically in the cool Redwood Valley within Mendocino. All the Carignan comes from one grower—Alvin Tollini—who is as passionate about Carignan as the Chaves are about Syrah in the Northern Rhone. The care with which the grapes were sourced and the wine made is evident in every sip. The Indica is a fabulous food wine which will work superbly from rare grilled steak smothered in crushed peppercorns to sautéed Portobello to duck salad. Several tasters commented that they would be quite happy to drink a glass by itself. And rightly so. The Indica is a muti-tasker and will satisfy both someone relatively new to wine and a sophisticated drinker. Last and surely not least, the price of the wine turned out to be well below are professional estimate of its worth, a mere $22.99. At that price a case is well warranted.
-Bob Millman, NY Vintners