There are U.S. trailblazers, and there are game-changers, but you rarely find both under one roof. Laura Brennan Bissell's appropriately named label Inconnu, meaning "unknown," is the 2023 discovery that had me feeling, well, seen.

I generally drink Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux, Santa Cruz Mountains, and Napa/Sonoma. But I only pull those corks when the menu calls for steak or lamb. Simply put, you won't find me watching a David Lynch flick with a glass of Cab––I don't have the interest to imbibe for 2 hours sans food. And that is why Inconnu is as invigorating a game-changer as I've tasted from California in a long time.

Bissell's wines all carry modest alcohol levels (well below what that even means in the regions above), and they have such beautiful balance and finesse that they disappear fast but offer long-lasting joy. They marry the refreshing qualities of a great Cru Beaujolais with the flavor profiles of ripe-not-overripe Cabernet Sauvignon, where black cherries and currants can be found with notes of eucalyptus and mint that make things a lot more exciting––and delicious!

Another thing that makes clear these wines were destined to be KWM mainstays is their origin, coming from the same distributor/importer as Clos Rougeard, COS, Soldera, Roagna, and Duroché, to name a handful). At the portfolio tasting last month, I was taken by how each red, regardless of their modest pricing, stood toe-to-toe with one another. I went back multiple times for tastes and was still hard-pressed to pick a favorite––they were all endowed with the kind of grace and intensity that separates the good from the great.

Do not miss these GREAT California reds that check all the boxes for Old World wine lovers and "New California" enthusiasts. And don't miss the crystalline Chenin Blanc from old vines in Clarksburg!

 

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