Easily Confused

I thought this wine, was the same Bella Zinfandel I’ve already reviewed and I was going to review it again since it’s been 6 months or so since I drank it. However, I was wrong. As I went back to look at my old post, I realized the labels are slightly different and this is a completely different Zinfandel.

What I have here is a Bella Big River Ranch 2004 Alexander Valley Zinfandel. And I’d been avoiding drinking it because I thought I already reviewed it! Apparently it is sold out through the winery, but when we got it, it cost $34 minus a club discount, weighs in at 15% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

On the nose there were gobs of dark fruit. Blackberries and black cherries with a hint of spices, vanilla and a cedar hope chest, along with black currants showing later. In the mouth the wine was quite tannic. I suggest decanting or holding off for a few years on this one. After the wine sat out, the flavors smoothed and the air certainly helped enhance the fruit, showing blackberries, other dark fruits and hints of oak. Once it aired, this wine showed the potential to be a very complex Zinfandel, with spicy earth undertones. I would definitely say hold on to it or let it decant before you consume!

Same Name Different Zin

Another 2004 Zinfandel by Bella, but sourced from a different vineyard than my last two reviews. This is a 2004 Lily Hill Zin. A big wine…15.5% alcohol by volume, a real cork and cost us around $22. The label says it can age for 7-9 years easily. I’m not sure I agree. It was a little tannic, but I doubt I’d let it hang around much longer than another 2 years.

On the nose, there were big blackberries and a bit of a flowery scent. In the mouth there were more blackberries, and as it opened, currants, earth, wood and a hint of vanilla.

As I said, it was a little tannic, and could age. Or you could decant it and it would be beautiful now. After a few hours of being open, this was a smooth wine, with an easy finish. Towards the end, this wine really opened up and showed a big chocolate finish.

I served it with yet another homemade pizza, plain cheese this time, as I had made an extra ball of dough for our company and needed to use it up!

Same Wine New Review

I reviewed this same bottle a little over a month ago, at this post.

It’s a 2004 Bella Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. I’m reviewing it again because this bottle tasted different. I don’t know if it was the food or the month lapse or perhaps just the bottle. Instead of blueberries and cherries, this time I got black currants, blackberries and sour cherries. I wrote in my tasting notes that it was a little understated and needed more time to come into its own. As we drank the bottle it opened up, but overall it was much more reserved than the last bottle we drank.

Overall, it worked very well with dinner. I made a pan seared filet mignon with a red currant zinfandel reduction served over a bed of 3 cheese risotto with broccoli florets. Having put the zinfandel in the sauce and then serving the same bottle with dinner seemed to really make the whole dish come together and I really actually liked it with the creamy risotto since I didn’t get the huge fruit I usually find in a CA zinfandel.

Bella is Beautiful!

Bella wines are fabulous. I have never had one I haven’t enjoyed. Last night we had a 2004 Bella Dry Creek Zinfandel. Delicious. We picked this bottle up at Bella on our trip to Sonoma. Bella was such a cool place to visit. The tasting room is built into a cave in the hill. We visited Bella on the day we were driven around by Gene of Healdsburg Area Wine Tours. Which, by the way, was a fantastic value and Gene was awesome! He’s really friendly and seems to love what he does. He took us to lots of vineyards that we may have not visited otherwise.

Back to the actual wine. The nose didn’t impress me very much, but the flavor more than made up for it! Lots of dark fruit and spice in the mouth. The finish was long and lingering and full of blueberries and a bit of cherry. We had leftover meatloaf and bruschetta for dinner last night and if was a great match for my meatloaf. Enjoy!

What do you serve with this:

I believe that is the question that many a wine lover (or blogger) has been asking him or herself over the past few weeks. This was the plate of food that was served to everyone at my house. Sweet potatoes with marshmellows, candied carrots, mashed potatoes with cheese, turkey, etc. Is there really a perfect wine to serve with this disharmonious collection of food that somehow all tastes good together?

I think the answer I have arrived at is that no, there is no perfect wine to serve. But that’s okay. Since nothing will go fantastically well, why not just serve what you like and add it into the mix of all the other random foods put together on a plate?

With that in mind, 4 bottles fell at our house on Thanksgiving. I was little off in my predictions. I thought we would drink 2 white, a red and a dessert. It ended up being 2 white, a dessert and a Champagne. As noted before, we let our guests choose off our pre-prepared list. My husband’s brother and his wife chose the first bottle, a 2005 Ferrari-Carano Sauvignon Blanc. My brother in law said it was because it had Ferrari in the name. Everyone seemed to like it, though I think most were more concerned with tasting all the food at the table than with the wine! It’s a slightly sweet sauvignon blanc with a good bit of citrus rounding out the flavor. I remember really enjoying this the day we tasted it and we do have another bottle hanging around for later. Cork closure, $15.

Next we moved on to a dessert wine, which was the choice my husband’s Aunt and Uncle. Being slightly wary of the VA dessert wines on the list, they chose a 2005 Bella Late Harvest Zinfandel. This was also a cork closure and cost $20.50. At 15% residual sugar, I expected this to be a very sweet wine, but it really reminded of a very young port. I thought it had a great finish, a lot of blackberry flavor and I probably should have served it with an assortment of chocolate, but, chocolate would not seem the dessert of choice for Thanksgiving.

Up third for the evening was a bottle of Preston Vineyards 2005 Dry Creek Valley Viognier. Cork closure, $22 after a case discount. If you ever have a chance, try Preston’s olive oils. They are superb and I only wish we had taken home a few bottles. This was a good choice for a wine to drink as we did, sitting around playing Trivial Pursuit. It was light and easy to drink, but surprisingly full in the mouth and very smooth going down. It had a bit of spice that I can’t place and maybe a hint of tropical fruit. This was my choice as I realized we were hunkering for a long battle of the wits.

Finally, to finish the evening, we opened the bottle of champagne that our Aunt and Uncle were so kind to bring. It was a G.H. Mumm & Cie. Cordon Rouge Brut. I gather it runs around $37 for the bottle and sadly the cork was thrown away before I could see what year it was. I thought this was a very tasty bottle and a great way to finish our evening. I tasted a lot of apple, and thought it was slightly sweet for a brut champagne. A good finish, with just a bit of yeasty undertone. I’d definetly get this bottle again.