For the last few years, Stolpman Vineyards in the new Ballard Canyon American Viticultural Area in Santa Barbara County has produced a wine called La Cuadrilla for "the crew." Its crew works full time under the direction of winemaker Sashi Moorman and vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano. Each year, the crew works an experimental cuadra or block, which rotates throughout the ranch. The grapes from that cuadra are used to make La Cuadrilla, so the blend is slightly different each year.
The 2012 is one of the best yet — 60% Syrah, 20% Sangiovese, 15% Grenache and 5% Petite Sirah. A deep garnet in color, this Rhone-style wine tastes of juicy dark berries and sun-baked herbs. It has a beautiful balance, even an elegance that belies its $20 price tag. Also notable: The profits from La Cuadrilla go to the vineyard crew. Join La Cuadrilla Wine Club and get 20% off two shipments per year of six bottles each (both the red and white La Cuadrilla).
A terrific everyday wine or dinner party wine, ready for barbecued meats, burgers, roast leg of lamb. Or it can be enjoyed with cheese or a hearty vegetable casserole.
Region: Santa Ynez Valley
Price: About $20
Style: Bright and easygoing
What it goes with: Burgers, grilled meats, BLT, cheese
Where to find it: K&L; Wine Merchants in Hollywood, (323) 464-9463, http://www.klwines.com; and Silver Lake Wine in Los Angeles, (323) 662-9024, http://www.silverlakewine.com. (Note: it's just released and should be in more stores soon.) After April 1, the 2012 will be available at Stolpman Vineyards Tasting Room (www.stolpmanvineyards.com/Tasting-Room/) in Los Olivos as well.