Welcome to That for, a monthly column about what we’re drinking (and loving) right now.
Here is a brief history lesson: Mission is believed to be the first grape missionaries planted in the state of California in the late 18th century. But over the years, when California sought to compete with the world’s serious wine regions, grapes like Mission have been tossed aside for more established ones like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Now that modern winemakers are exploring the forgotten variety of California’s grapes, these thin-skinned table wine grapes help them get a sense of the state’s wine identity when it was in its infancy.
You may have had a mission before. It comes from País in Chile and Lístan Prieto in Spain, where it is grown and vinified in the Canary Islands. With the tendency to make soft, tannic, tart, coolable, low alcohol wines, it’s easy to see how Mission has become a favorite of the easy-to-drink Glou-Glou set. But the nice thing about Mission is that although the light red packs fruit, it also has the hearty, spicy properties of larger red wines, which also makes it an all-round wine.
So the next time I have a fried za’atar chicken, a crispy sour salad, or a crispy salmon on my table, I’ll have a bottle of Multi-Dimensional California Mission with me right there. The deeper connection to America’s grapevine roots is just a nice bonus.
Two bottles to try:
- Monte Rio Keller Lodi 2019:: The great fruity scent and lush herbalism (thank you, carbonated maceration) make this mission especially beautiful when cooled before opening.
- Pax Mission “Somers Vineyard” 2019:: Inspired by the winery’s departure from the classic flavors of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this wine is made entirely from violets, spices and strawberry-watermelon diesel.
Andre Mack is a sommelier, winemaker, writer and designer based in Boston. Look at his label Maison Noir wines, online and in store.