Jeff Runquist 1448 Amador County Sierra Foothills Red Wine 2013

Dark garnet-red color; black raspberry, cherry, plum, oak, spice on the nose; dark fruit, touch of sweetness, toasty oak on the palate;

bold and big, approaches jammy—good acidity (3.41 pH) pulls it back, soft tannin, plenty of oak; tart finish. The wine is a kitchen-sink blend of grapes that in the early vintages came from excess grapes intended for Runquist’s varietal bottlings, but popularity now forces the winery to buy from other growers to meet demand for the product: 43% petite sirah, 32% petit verdot, 10% tannat, 7% barbera, 8% combination of sangiovese, trincadera, dolcetto, souzao, syrah, cabernet franc, pinot noir, and zinfandel. Whew. If you can’t find something to like in that tornado of flavors, you likely are not into red wine.

This effort is aimed at those who lust for big, almost-jammy fruit bombs, and compares to Michael David’s Petite Petit. Get both and have a taste-off. The Michael David effort is less jammy and oaky with petite sirah dominant, the Runquist effort is more California over-the-top, fill-your-mouth with a bee-swarm attack of dark fruit flavors with touch of tartness from mid-palate to the finish.

Tannat is the wild card in the mix; it historically is linked to Basque region of southwest France on Spanish border, and the Pyrénées foothills village of Madiran in particular. It also is known as the “national grape” of Uruguay. Tannat is deep, dark, rustic, and raspberry, although it takes on different characteristics in different countries. Runquist likely uses tannat to beef up the tannins in the blend—the grape’s name means “tannin” (although with petite sirah and petit verdot leading the way, this is not a tannic wine)—and to add that element of rustic tartness. $17

Jeff Runquist is a career winemaker—internship at Paul Masson Sherry Cellars in Madera while studying at UC Davis in the late 1970s, then on to work at Montevina, Napa Valley Cooperative Winery, and finally winemaker at J. Lohr. He began to crush for himself in 1995, starting with a zinfandel offering. Now Jeff Runquist makes an array of varietals and this blockbuster blend. Runquist says he aims for big, fruit-forward efforts that do not have “loads of astringent tannins.” He succeeds with 1448. Lovers of vibrant, big fruit, almost-jammy, bold red wines should drink this up.

Jeff Runquist website
Second photo: Jeff and Margie Runquist
Jeff Runquist 1448
Jeff and Margie Runquist