Peju Winery has been operating in Napa for 30 years, making serious Bordeaux-style wines under the guidance of founders Tony and Herta Peju. Their daughters Ariana and Lisa work for the winery as well, and have released their own wine called Tess that goes back to some blends the family experimented with at the kitchen table back in 1988.
The two sisters are roughly the same ages as my brother and me, and in 1988, we were still blending suicide soda mixes at the Burger King drink fountain. At the time, neither of us dared add orange Fanta into a cola mix, though now I think that the appropriate introduction of citrus could provide a necessary punch to the spicy, herbal cola elements.
NV Tess Red & White Blend
Proprietary blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc
$20, 13.9% abv.
The wine pours with the brick and garnet shade of Burgundy despite the absence of Pinot Noir. The nose is indecipherable--I found the Sauvignon Blanc to be the most distinct aroma, but the other grapes are all competing for attention. Yet on the tongue, the wine shows delightful acidity, bright fruit punch flavors with red berries and a touch of red apple, and a finish that provides echoes of the darker grapes used in the blend. This is a casual wine intended to be chilled and served without deep analysis, and on that scale it is a winner. Though the flavor profile is different, I found myself enjoying this far more than any Beaujolais Nouveau that I've had in the past five years, and would strongly recommend this bottle for weddings or casual occasions. As for food pairings, I put together a club sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, heirloom tomatoes, and a few slices of avocado for the California nod. It worked out very well, and this reddish wine should perform admirably with a wide array of appetizers.
Note: This wine was provided as a sample.