[91 pts Robert Parker] The 2006 Zinfandel Rattlesnake Ridge from the cool upper elevations of Howell Mountain displays a lighter style, medium body, a fragrant, up-front, almost Pinot Noir-like delicacy, but some real strength in the background. This is not one of the bigger Zinfandels despite the high alcohol, and in fact it seems to be finesse-styled. Drink it over the next 4-5 years.
From whiskey to wine, the United States is quickly becoming one of the premier countries for a variety of styles and categories of alcohol. From Napa Cabernets, to Kentucky Bourbon, to craft beer, gin and vodka, the list of exceptional style and quality continues to impress the most discerning palates.
The largest domestic wine growing region in the United States is by far California. California wines took international recognition in the 1976 competition known as "The Judgement Of Paris." In this famous blind tasting, California wines were put up against the best wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux - and won.
Today, California wines are among some of the finest made throughout the world. For California red wines, grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot and Syrah are among the most popular. California "meritages" have also become quite popular. These red "blends" commonly use the classic Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, though many winemakers blend with other varietals. For California white wines, grapes such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the most popular - as they are throughout the rest of the wine world. Whether red or white wine, the most popular wine AVA's (American Viticultural Areas) in California are the wine subregions of Napa Valley, Russian River Valley and Sonoma.
California wines are often referred to as "New World" wines (as opposed to "Old World"). New World wines tend to be fruit forward and have new oak barrel influence, while Old World wines tend to be more mineral driven and have less oak influence. Today, there is an emerging trend among California wineamakers to use less oak influence in their wines allowing the grapes' characteristics to better express themselves.