2022 Lioco, Carignan “Indica” Mendocino County.
Made by the husband and wife team of Matt & Sara Licklider, Loco’s delicious Indica Red, 100% Carignan, is a wonderfully expressive California wine the screams of authenticity, pleasure and fun in the glass with bright layers of red fruits, spice and delicate florals, much in the same vein as a Cru Beaujolais, though inspired by traditional Corbieres, one of the spiritual homes of the grape in the Southwestern part of France. This 2022 Indica is youthful and full of personality and concentration, even its lighter frame, with crushed raspberry, plum, strawberry and Italian cherry fruits leading the way, along with Provencal herbs, anise, candied orange peel, a touch of earthy loam, mineral and a hint of walnut. The palate is ripe, with a medium bodied feel and is about Barbera like in tannic structure by comparison, making it a flexible food wine, which I recommend, going great with everything from BBQ, Korean spicy pork to pasta dishes. Over the years I have become very fond of this Lioco wine, it is now one I search out, but they do have some more serious stuff to check out, and I also gravitate to their crystalline Chardonnay as well, this is always a label not to pass up checking out.

As per normal with the Indica Red, Lioco sourced the Carignan grapes from a few historic Mendocino County ranches, with some vineyards on the valley floor, though some sites were at high elevation, but all were what the winery calls “Heritage” dry-farmed and head-trained vines, set on a combination of soils ranging from red clay to hard rocky soils. Some years have had a small percentage of other varietals, including Valdigue, but this wine is dominated by its Carignan and all the better for it, making for lovely California version of this grape with historic roots in the Languedoc, as seen in some fabulous Corbieres wines, noted above, though it is also one of the famed Chateauneuf grapes, where it plays a very minor role. The Lioco Indica, mostly old vine, is fermented in a mix of open-top tanks with (a) light cap management and gentle maceration as to not get too tannic, as the mission here was to make a highly enjoyable quaffer. After primary, the Indica was aged about 10 months in a mix of neutral oak barriques, puncheons and stainless steel, again to highlight drinkability, transparency and preserve freshness, as this release does very nicely. The Lioco Indica Carignan offers up a lot of value for the money and is always an appreciated option on a wine list, as mentioned, it is great with food and a savvy low alcohol choice.
($25 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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