Wild Hog Vineyards is a true boutique winery based in the Sonoma Coast region of California about midway between Cazadero and Fort Ross. Sitting at an elevation of about 1400 feet, only five miles from the Pacific coast, the vineyards manage to avoid the morning fogs so prevalent around the region. The long hot days and shorter cool nights allow the Schoenfleds to produce some of the most intensely concentrated fruit in the region. Winemakers since the late 70's Wild Hog was opened in 1990 and has since been crafting the most superb wines imaginable.
They have transformed a rugged, moutainous terrain into a veritable garden of Eden. Their organic farm grows grapes, numerous fruits and vegetables, and their whole environment is run on eco-friendly terms, the winery and their home are powered by combination solar and hydro electricity. They utilise bio-sustainable farming practices and eschew the use of chemicals in their crops, even using natural predators to manage vineyard pests.
I first came across their wines in Scotland at a Villeneuve wines tasting at the Champany Inn near Linlithgow. The Saralee Vineyard Pinot was unlike any Pinot I had ever tasted. It was a deep red colour, thick, almost like a soup. Unfiltered and unfined the wine was cloudy and there were many fine particles suspended in the wine. But the flavours and intensity were phenominal! Super-turbo-charged pinot for those who want their pinots with more whoomph! Kenny and Alaistair were raving about the wines, having just spend a number of days there (I believe one day was spend just trying to find the winery, its a bit off the beaten track apparently.). Off the back of tasting that one wine, we agreed to list the three wines that Villeneuve had managed to negiotiate exclusive UK rights to. I never got the taste the Carignane because I never had the chance to sell one before leaving Amaryllis and moving on to Gleneagles.
Anyway long story short, I eventually managed to get it listed here, along with the fantastic pinot. Last night was the first chance that I've had to taste the wine (Six years after first listing it!! a new record perhaps?) I dont recall tasting a mono-cepage Carignane before so I wasnt too sure what to expect really. On the nose there was a full bodied nose of brooding purple and dark fruits - morello cherries, brambles, currants, blueberries, with a storng undernote of mint that didnt translate to the palate. I expected it to be really harsh and quite tannic like the rustic reds of the minervois, but was actually pleasantly surprised by the suppleness of it. It was quite smooth with a medium acidity still, big fruit flavours dominated with some subtle oak flavours - a touch of spice and toastyness. Absolutely fantastic wine, I reckon it would suit dishes such as venison, hearty beef dishes and rich stews or casseroles. Great winter wine.