Last year, when Randall Grahm sold his Big House brand, those of us who appreciated unpretentious, good value, everyday wine waited for the other shoe to drop. Would his new venture, freed from what he called the golden handcuffs of success, live up to the reputation of the $10 Big House red, white and pink?
Yes, as it turns out. Grahm has released three wines under the Ca del Solo label – a sangiovese, a muscat, and an albarino, each for about $15. In fact, these may be better than Big House (even allowing for the higher price). The sangiovese, with lots of dark fruit and a touch of Italian style not often found in California, is one of the best sangioveses made in this country, regardless of price. The albarino, made with the Spanish grape, is cleaner and more interesting than many Spanish albarinos I’ve tasted, while the muscat has a wonderful balance between sweetness and acid and very bright orange fruit.
One caveat: Availability is spotty, mostly because Grahm made just 8,000 cases total, or just 1/50th of the old Big House production. He is apparently truly terrified of those golden handcuffs.