It's no secret that we're living in the era of the big, bold, American red blend! While we can thank the genius of people like Dave Phinney and Mark Herold for introducing America to the stratospheric heights that California field blends can achieve, lord knows there have been more than a few cheap imitations flooding the market as of late, many of which amount to nothing more than unfocused, sugary fruit bombs that lack the necessary finesse to be big without also being clunky. However, if one only knows where to look, there are other producers out there who are striving to make the kind of powerful and structured red blends that aim to express California's true potential for world class wines.

With that in mind we present you with the 2011 ANCIENT PEAKS RENEGADE, an aptly named wine from Ancient Peaks' Margarita Vineyard in Paso Robles, which rebelliously flaunts old world conventions with an off -the- wall blend made up of 62% Syrah, 28%, Petit Verdot, and 10% Malbec. Usually wines lauded for their 'smoothness' and 'drinkability' eventually convert to 'boring' after the first glass, but not so with Ancient Peaks Renegade. Being mostly Syrah, this wine bursts with meaty and peppery aromas, as well as tantalizing notes of blueberries, black currant, vanilla, leather, and smoked bacon. An atypically high amount of Petit Verdot (often relegated to very small amounts in most blends) provides an elegant structure to the mid palate, and the small amount of Malbec lends an enticing hint of juicy plums up front. Everyone at the shop was really taken with the stony minerality framing the rich fruit of this wine, and it only gets better on the second day.

Unsurprisingly, we weren't the only ones to be struck by the quality of this wine. Have a look at what Wine & Spirits and the Connoisseurs Guide have to say-

91 points Wine & Spirits

** Best Buy ** A Syrah-dominant blend… this is grown mostly on sandstone and shale at the cooler southern end of Paso Robles. It’s refreshing, the flavors suggesting black currant along with something more floral in the aroma, coasting on a brisk, stony texture. It feels tight and clean, poised to gain with time in bottle.

90 points Connoisseurs Guide

**Good Value** There has been a good deal of debate about the potential virtues and pitfalls of the cool and quite challenging 2011 vintage, but this unlikely, unconventional combination of grapes very much speaks to the former. It leads with a mix of bright berries and slightly pungent, peppery spice in the nose and follows with lively flavors that are filled with fresh fruit and long on stamina. While sporting plenty of zesty acidity, it does not want for fruity stuffing, and it shows the kind of balance to suggest that it will age with great grace.

The price here is $19.99 the bottle, or $216 + tax for a case, and according to the wine's distributor there are only 5 cases left in the state for the highly lauded 2011 vintage, so if you're interested in trying this wine please let us know as soon as possible. Thanks!

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