Oct. 2 2015 04:00 PM

Forgotten Barrel boasts high-end quality

Not all wines can claim they were born of an earth-shaking event, but one of Forgotten Barrel's (11855 Sorrento Valley Road) offerings sure can.

On Aug. 24, 2014, wine broker Paris Driggers was in Napa Valley—where his wines are made—putting together a batch when an earthquake struck the area in the early morning hours. Driggers said he expected the wine he had blended and stacked inside a wine cave to be destroyed. But when he returned that day the wine was entirely intact.

"Not a drop was spilled," Driggers says.

The batch became known as Lot 6.1, in honor of the magnitude of the quake. The unique blend is a combination of 70 percent 2013 Syrah from the Dry Creek Valley and 30 percent 2009 Zinfandel from Amador County. After taking only a few sips, I was also glad it survived the quake.

The blend has slight pepper on the nose but tastes more dominantly of baking spices. Strong berry scents start to come out when the wine gets air to it, matching some of the blackberry and raspberry flavors that speak to the influence of that luscious Zinfandel.

Forgotten Barrel's story is as complex as the wine itself. After a career as a wine buyer and sommelier, Driggers turned into more of a négociant—a merchant who buys wine at various stages of completion sometimes selling it as is, other times blending. Driggers tends to focus on organic farming and biodynamic wines, which along with his relationship with high-end producers, he says, allows him to offer high-quality wines at a fraction of the price.

It was interesting to hear how Driggers combines wines from different regions and years to create wines of his liking. After trying a handful, I can attest that there wasn't a disappointing pour in the bunch. The 2013 Sika Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a delightful heavy hitter, and all the Chardonnays were light and refreshing. It was a struggle to only bring home the Lot 6.1.

Forgotten Barrel's tasting room is home to 14 other wines, some under the label Sika. Thursdays through Sundays, a $10 tasting is offered with six to seven of these, but don't be surprised if Driggers starts sharing more.

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