We had a very enjoyable visit to the Cakebread Cellars, after I emailed in advance, asking to meet a winemaker if possible, and sure enough, first Bruce Cakebread and then – extensively – his winemaker Juliann Laks, took us around and answered my stupid questions. We then tasted the range at our leisure, and the basic wines were pretty good, if a touch lacking in concentration for the reds. However, that was partly due to them being slightly chilled, I thought, so I bought this Côte Rôtie lookalike (1% Viognier), and we drank it a day-or-so later. Sure enough, it had more body and richesse. Deep black-ruby core with a youthful purple rim. Intense, hot-climate, ripe vanilla-laced blackberry and black cherry nose – perhaps into crème de cassis – with some pepper-spice and leather hints. Ripe, quite alcoholic, full-bodied palate. Smooth, smoky, black fruit. Moderate acidity and medium length. Overall, very Cali. Would I mistake this for an Aussie Shiraz? More likely a Zinfandel on the nose, but with more tannin on the palate.