Jeff Runquist’s name may make him sound like a race car driver, but he’s actually a veteran winemaker who makes his home in California’s Amador County. We recently received a five-pack of wines from the Runquist stable — which comprises 25 red varietals alone — to see what he’s been up to.
2018 Jeff Runquist 1448 Red Table Wine California – A mystery blend from all over California. Gently pruny on the nose, this wine slowly opens up to reveal a combination of blackberry jam and lavender notes, making for an experience that is both dessert-like and highly perfumed. With food, the sweeter, more pushy elements fade into the background a bit. C+ / $13
2017 Jeff Runquist Barbera Amador County – Italian barbera is often densely herbal and spice-driven, but here it’s a thick layer of black fruit and a heavy punch of fresh oak that gives this wine an overwhelming density. A sweet kick of blackcurrants on the finish and a chocolate note recall whiskey barrel-aged wines more than the typically lithe barbera. C+ / $25
2017 Jeff Runquist Petit Verdot Damir Ranch Stanislaus County – This is a fairly elegant wine, with notes of violets, blackberries, and a hint of Christmas spice giving the palate some lift. A touch of smoke develops in time, pushing the wine toward a somewhat rustic profile, but on the whole the balance is much better here than in other bottlings in this collection. B+ / $NA
2017 Jeff Runquist Petite Sirah Salman Vineyard Clarksburg – Inky and dense, you can smell the extracted fruit with your nose a foot from the glass. Tarry and thick with notes of dark chocolate, licorice, blackberry, and currants, this experience is short on nuance but big on flavor, with a pushy, jammy-chocolate experience. Hints of hibiscus on the finish. B / $28
2017 Jeff Runquist “Z” Zinfandel Massoni Ranch Amador County – Less unctuous than the typical California zinfandel, this more austere bottling (blended with 10% petite sirah) offers strong sour cherry body atop which notes of thyme, baking spice, and some tea leaf all come into focus. The cola finish further steps away from classic zin notes, and though it’s unorthodox, it’s still one of the better wines in this collection. B+ / $20