California is not really full of surprises and if I were really going to try to be tricky, I would make you search for the one Abouriou that always seems to make an appearance at wine geek feasts, but I'm going to play nice and let you in on a little secret. There is a fair amount of one grape grown in California, perhaps less than in the past, that seems ideally suited not only to the climate, but to California's style of wine making.
One grape that I almost always say I should be drinking more of. What is it? Well you might not be surprised to find out it's Barbera! Yes, that Piedmontese stalwart is a child all grown up on the West Coast, and it can be beautiful. Because of the West Coast's climate, Barbera tends to be significantly fruitier here than in Italy, with softer acidity, though Barbera's acidity can never really be tamed. All the richness of fruit and soft tannins mean that California Barbera can better handle the new oak that producers tend to want to robe it in. Here it tends to work more often than not, producing some sumptuous results.
Photo courtesy star5112 via Flickr/CC