It was his 2010 Out of the Blue, a unique blend of Cinsault and Syrah, that won me over. Cinsault is rarely prominent, but Bienstock's Out of the Blue features his Cinsault vines, which are over 130 years old, in a blend with 11 percent Syrah. Although the wine had structure, its light-bodiedness was reminiscent of Cru Beaujolais — but more intensely floral and less fruity. As Bienstock put it, "It's a happy wine." I'm already kicking myself for not having bought a bottle! What are your favorite Sierra Foothill wines?
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Although there were hundreds of wineries at this year's SF Vintners Market, I spent a disproportionate amount of time tasting reds at Clos Saron, a tiny winery located in the Sierra Foothills AVA of Northern California. Owner Gideon Bienstock wouldn't share his favorite bottling with me ("That'd be like choosing a favorite child!" he exclaimed), but I found my top pick anyhow.