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Grouped together here are the less well-known types of California red table wines, mostly dry. They include a number of secondary varietals and the generic types labeled simply "California Red Table Wine" or "California Red Wine:"
The marketing of secondary varietals has generally been discouraged and with good reason. Varietals of no particular distinction, when not used for blending or for the production of dessert wines, had best be labeled under generic names.
The grape is primarily cultivated in California, as in Algeria and Southern France, on account of its great productivity. The wine, also spelled "Carignan," is usually only average in quality, although the best, from the cooler regions, can be sound and fruity. It is mostly used for bulk production, but has been varietally produced in Sonoma County and elsewhere. It is one of the parents of the Ruby Cabernet.
A fruity and often slightly effervescent wine of special charm from Piedmont, produced from the grape of the same name. Not often seen in California, where it is easily misspelled "Fresia," it may well have a future as a varietal type.
The famous vine, planted by the Mission Fathers and the first of the Vitis vinifera line in California. A vigorous grower, it is best suited for the production of dessert wines, notably Angelica, with which it has long been associated. Modern taste prefers other varieties to Mission for claret, but some has been produced as a varietal in Fresno County.
Said to originate in Savoy, France, this vine is a good producer, but yields a wine of usually insufficient quality to bottle it as a varietal. It is mostly used for blending purposes.
A tawny-colored newcomer from Calabria, Italy. Plans are to produce from it, in Santa Clara Valley, a table wine of some sweetness.
The grape is considered by some authorities to be related to the Carignane (see there). The wine, at its best, as has been produced in the Livermore Valley, can be soft, fruity, and pleasing.
Another native of Piedmont, where it yields a number of wellknown and pleasing wines. The California varietal is only rarely seen.
The Petite Sirah of California, thought to be identical with the Duriff of Savoy in France, does extremely well in its adopted soil, where it is widely cultivated. It was once identified with the French Petite Sirah, which made Hermitage and other Rhone wines of France famous. The name is probably of Persian origin and a corruption of Shiraz.
Whatever its origin, the California Petite Sirah yields a wine of distinctive aroma and flavor. It is much used in California burgundy, although its character has little in common with the French wine of that name. It has occasionally been marketed as a varietal wine.
This wine, nearly unknown in Italy, is used in California for blending in burgundy. It is famous for having been used by Hiram W. Crabb in his legendary "Black Burgundy," by which name the grape has also become known.
Primarily used for blending purposes. A claret type, possessing a distinctive aroma and flavor and a full color and body. It has been bottled as a varietal in the Napa Valley.
This vine, introduced from Spain, ranks with the most vigorous and productive in California. In the cooler regions it yields clean, average-quality table wines, rarely seen as a varietal.
California Red Table Wine
A wine so labeled, with no further indication of type, is usually an inexpensive light red table wine of no pronounced character. Some wine growers bottle a standard quality wine under this label, the best of which is dry and can be quite good. There are also medium-dry and sweet wines of this type.