In late 1999, I moved to San Francisco to be with my partner, but also to fulfill a dream of living in California. It was everything I thought it could be and more and it was in SF that I was truly exposed to incredibly fresh produce and food prepared with sustainable ingredients. Most of all, however, it was where I began my love for delicious wine and the start of my wine education.
For various reasons, in 2003 we left our Northern California paradise and moved back to Chicago. Don't get me wrong, I love Chicago (it is my hometown), but I despise winter and being bitterly cold. I ask myself (and pretty much anyone who will listen) why I ever left California. I really don't know the answer, but at least each year as the temps drops to unbearable points, I can at least take solace knowing that I can open bottle after bottle of big, warm, jammy California red wine to snuggle up with and keep me warm.
Below are some of my favorites and others I've discovered in the last few months. Many are available locally, but others you may have to search around online or visit the winery's website. Either way, it'll be worth the hunt.
Let's start with something a little local. D&S 2006 Proprietary Red is produced by the guys behind Bin 36 restaurant--Dan Sachs and Brian Duncan, hence the D&S. Yes, there is a line of Bin 36 wines, but this one is pretty special. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot and Merlot is intricate and layered and reveals itself the longer it's open. It starts off with subtle fruit and soft tannins with blueberry and violet notes. The longer it breathes, the jammier it gets. Raisin, leather and darker red fruit come through. It's great bottle to pair with red meats, chicken and even pasta in red sauce and is available at Bin 36 for $26.95 or at select Whole Foods.