By Rick Riozza

The first thing that came to my mind after quaffing the lightly chilled Young Red 2020, was that Bonterra had just produced the first “true-style” California Beaujolais in recent memory! The wine world simply loves French Beaujolais, and the fact that Mendocino County’s Bonterra’s vineyard has presented a fabulous “Cal Boge” put us over the moon!

But hold on there partner! When I grabbed the bottle to read the label, looking for a predominance of Gamay Noir in the mix—I saw nothing. In fact, there was no mention of any particular grape in the mix. I thought, perhaps, Bonterra was playing low-key in their description of the wine. In other words, “Relax and enjoy—no need to get into grape varietals.” And they’re right. The wine is absolutely delicious: It’s fresh and lively, has great fruit, nice complexity, silky texture—a summer stunner for all occasions!

Alors! As I came to find out—it’s not California Gamay, but rather a Grenache Malbec blend with a touch of Viognier. Thus we are getting blossoming aromas of ripe raspberries, cherries, figs, and clementine oranges. On the palate, we get cherries, some black cherries, apricots, cranberries, roses, other florals, a bit of iodine with a nice backbone of acidity. As one would expect there are light tannins; and I love the tart cherry on the finish. Its light to medium bodied with a perfect 13.3% alcohol level. This is why I thought “Beajolais”—and why I’m still drinking it!

Advertisement seems to agree with me. Here is their take: “This is an unusual wine. It takes some of the Rose this winery produces and hard presses the grapes (presumably after the juice intended for the Rose is separated). Hard pressing is basically squeezing to get a bit more juice. This is typically tannic. The difference is they then add in Malbec juice to the wine. The wine is barrel fermented and then aged for a bit in stainless steel. The result is a young, lighter wine that is not too unlike a Beaujolais.”

At around $15 or so, Bonterra Young Red 2020 it is the best organic wine value on the shelves. Bonterra has been a winery we enjoy reviewing. And speaking of “organic” here’s the informative spiel on Bonterra. “Organically farmed and masterfully made, Bonterra Organic Vineyards wines are crafted to be perfectly in tune with nature. A celebration of the vitality derived from organic cultivation, our wines respect careful farming practices carried out on a dynamic network of estate and partner farms throughout California. Long before organic produce filled the shelves of neighborhood grocery’s, our dedicated team was committed to organic and Biodynamic farming because we passionately believe that farms teeming with biodiversity—encompassing vines, insects and wildlife, and healthy soils—yield better wines.”

As with a Beaujolais, the Young Red 2020 pairs wonderfully with roasted chicken, pork sausage, hangar steak, meat loaf, and of course our favorite duck with plum sauce. Charcuterie is a classic combo to match with this wine.

The wine also pairs well with fatty fish like salmon and tuna. With its high acidity, this wine can also balance creamy pasta dishes and risottos with fish or shellfish. Other seafood that works well is roasted cod, sushi, fried calamari and Cajun shrimp.

And as to cheeses, look to serve the chilled Young Red 2020 with Chèvre, Neufchâtel, brie, cream cheese, Swiss, Gruyère, and Monterey Jack. Hmmmm…looks like we’ve just made ourselves hungry and thirsty all over again,

Bon Appétit & Cheers!!