California hardly conjures up an image of a wine region struggling with an identity crisis. But there are areas of the Golden State that have never fully defined a winemaking niche.
This Zinfandel-based blend is upper medium depth garnet in color with a medium opacity, becoming ruby at the rim. Rich plum and berry aromas up front. Pleasantly piney notes soon emerge, backed by hints of sweet oak. More time in the glass brings out subtle char and espresso aromas. It quickly becomes very tangy and ends very, very racy with a steely, scalpel-sharp note. Very fine tannins are slight, velvety textured, smooth and have a tea-like astringency. The 15.7% alcohol is well-carried and perhaps tamed by the racy, high acidity, which lifts the tone of the plum and berry flavors but also tends to overshadow them. The lingering finish is a dynamic kaleidoscope of acidity, plum and berry flavors, heat and mild, velvety astringency. For the time being, it can be paired with high-acid foods. Paired with Greek salad (grilled chicken, feta, Persian cucumbers and balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing).
My late grandfather spent the last decade of his life solving crosswords and drinking wine. It’s been 15 years since he was with us. But I can still vividly recall his passion for both words and a bicchiere of dark ruby red. “Would you like some water?” he used to ask me with a grin. By “water” he meant what he considered the source of life, a glass of locally produced Plavac Mali wine from his native region of Dalmatia. His offering was our little secret. I, being too young to drink, politely refused, but was nonetheless determined to explore my grandfather’s passion at some point in life.
This is simple, one-dimensional, jammy, and oaken. It is also cloudy, not something you see as often in these days of high-quality winemaking. The fruit is slightly peppery, sour cherry and raspberry. The oak is not integrated, but seems to bear almost no relationship to the fruit, coming to the palate after the fruit and overwhelming it. Even at this price point, this cannot be recommended.
A big, rich, oaky, Sonoma Zinfandel, this has huge oak, generous blackberries and black cherries sprinkled liberally with coarse black pepper and shavings of baker's chocolate. The finish drops off quickly. It scored a three out of five stars at the Palate Press Grand Tasting. This wine will overpower anything but the biggest, most flavorful meats and sauces. Giant, Flintstones-sized beef ribs with a great rub and sauce carmelized on for just the last twenty minutes or so will do the job.
On December 10, eighty-five wine professionals, wine aficionados, and wine-curious friends gathered at the home of Palate Press Publisher David Honig for the 2010 Palate Press Grand Tasting, an evening of blind wine tasting. We opened 135 different wines from around the world, from Ahr to the Yakima Valley, and from Assyrtiko to Zinfandel.
This is simple, one-dimensional, jammy, and oaken. It is also cloudy, not something you see as often in these days of high-quality winemaking. The fruit is slightly peppery sour cherry and raspberry. The oak is not integrated, but seems to bear almost no relationship to the fruit, coming to the palate after the fruit and overwhelming it. Evan at this price point, this cannot be recommended.
Tasted at a recent show of North American wines, this red blend stood out of the bottled crowd. Deep, opaque purple color shows off a nose of violets and dark chocolate and toast. Chewy and dense at first, it yields languorous blackberry and pepper flavors upheld by soft tannins and a nice sugar balance. A very nice yin and yang of velvet and strength. A great wine with winter dishes, especially a cassoulet. But it’s not just for winter, either. Pricey, but a keeper.