Wine Of The Week: Iruai Winery Shasta-Cascade Red
A wild, silky California red with a French accent to pair with a summer sunset.
I spent last weekend in Joshua Tree, California to celebrate a friend’s nuptials. It was exactly as to be expected: lots of flower crowns, crystals, tumbleweeds, and terrible dive bars. So when picking up wine for the weekend (from a store called “The Wine and Rock Shop,” no less), I leaned into it. I got a little granola.
Iruai Winery is certainly have an air of mysticism to them. The labels are watercolored, filled with loose scrawlings of purple-hued mountains, bigfoots strolling through a sunset, and wizards overlooking a mountain pass. The bottles are photographed beside ashtrays, lava lamps, smudgesticks, and disco balls. Wines are accompanied by playlists, and their wine club, called the Mystery Lodge.
The wines are made by Chad and Michelle Westbrook Hinds, high up in the Shasta-Cascade mountain range. These aren’t your typical California Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons — they’re wild, European alpine wines: Blaufränkisch, Nebbiolo, Mondeause, Savagnin, and Syrah.
I settled into the porch on our desert AirBnB and cracked open a bottle of their red Shasta-Cascade, made with a blend of Trousseau, Mondeuse, Blaufrankisch, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. It’s wild and rich, with high toned black fruit, a little bit of tang and a little bit of smoke. It’s an almost magical wine, with vibrant energy, a hint of spice, and beautiful alpine acidity (Hinds pairs it with tunes like “Coyote” by Joni Mitchell and “Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac.)
An excellent wine for a desert sunset, and a great wine to welcome a long holiday weekend. Serve chilled. $29. Their Lousas is made with mainly Mencia — a silky, aromatic grape grown in Portugal and Spain — with a little bit of Souson and Trousseau. It’s full, stemmy, and peppery, with plush aromas of violet, pomegranate, and blueberries. This dazzling and vibrant wine also possesses a nice hit of minerality. It’s rich enough to stand up to a big-flavored meal, or just enjoy it chilled on a hot summer night. $46
Kate Dingwall is a WSET-trained sommelier and seasoned spirits writer. Her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, Eater, Forbes.com, and others, and she pours wine at one of Canada’s top restaurants.