Broc Cellars are an Urban Winery, based in Berkley, California. They were founded by Chris Brockway, who began making a little of his own wine as a side-project. This was 2002, and the inspiration was simple - Chris felt Californian wine had lost its way - that all the big red and oak aged Chardonnay were made to please critics, rather than simply expressing their place. So he set out to do things differently, to make natural, food friendly wines that expressed the same philosophy as the food on the tables of local restaurants - simple dishes, crafted to make the ingredients shine. This wine showcases ‘New Age California’ - winemakers who do things a little differently. It’s a field blend of old varieties from Mendocino.
What is New Age California all about?
To understand the new, we need to look at the past. The evolution of California as a great wine region has taken a few twists and turns over the last century…
- In 1933 Prohibition ended in the US and this was where things began in earnest. The Gold Rush was in the past and wine became a popular trade for many Californians.
- By the 1960’s and 70’s Californian wine was following a very similar template to that of Bordeaux and other French regions - just ripe, long growing seasons, elegant, medium bodied wines that could cellar well.
- In 1976 as often documented, the world woke up to Californian wine with their success in the ‘Judgment of Paris’.
- In 1978 Robert Parker launched The Wine Advocate complete with his innovative 100pt scoring scale. This had a huge influence over the next couple of decades as winemakers across the world, but significantly in California, looked to please Parker’s palate in the search of 100 points. This led to many big, alcoholic, thick and incredibly ripe wines, which put the concept of terroir to the back of mind.
- These two phenomena, the Judgment and Parker, helped to hoist Napa to global acclaim.
- But over the last couple of decades, things have started to change.
What has changed?
Simply, winemakers have become more impassioned and driven by their own philosophy, eschewing the trend for conformity, and introducing consumers to something new, whether that be natural wines, lighter styles, old and ancient grape varieties. Winemaking techniques have been explored and optimised and young, bright, innovative producers are doing things entirely their own way.
Is this a good thing?
Californian wine has never struggled for its quality, but it has, perhaps, lacked character and personality at times. This is undoubtedly now changing. The potential breadth of stylistic interpretations is now being realised, and the region is becoming a lot more interesting, varied and diverse.
An incredible wine, and a true representation of ‘New Age California’. This is a wine with personality for sure, a light, surreal, perfumed, juicy red made from a variety of grapes such as Valdiguie, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Zinfandel. Totally natural, with wild fermentation and minimal intervention, it does have that typical bruised red apple character from this style of winemaking, but it’s totally clean, marvellously varietal, and terroir driven. A wine with a very apt name in this case, as Love Red is a wine it’s almost impossible not to love.