Back to My Roots

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Quivira Winery

Zinfandel, and specifically Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, is really where my journey with red wine began. If you’ve been a long time reader of the wine blog, I’m sure you’ve read where I’ve written about going to Sonoma for the first time on my honeymoon 5 years ago and how I fell in love with Zinfandel on the trip. I’d previously really been a “white wine only please” person, so it really was a turning point for me in my love of wine. These days I don’t drink nearly as much Zinfandel as I used to, but I do like to go back and revisit those wines that helped me fall head of heels for red wine. Tonight we tried the 2008 Quivira Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. It clocked in at 14.8% alcohol, had a real cork closure, and retails for $20.

On the nose I got blackberry, spice, oak, herbs, baking spice, licorice, black cherry, and a caramel note. In the mouth I found tart, tart blackberry, the kind that make you pucker your lips a bit, black fruit, spice, chocolate, and juicy black cherry. The palate showed mostly juicy black fruit for me with plenty of tannins and acidity. At $20, this is a steal for a great Dry Creek Valley Zin.

More Party Wine

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Gallo Family Wines

As you might be able to tell, I’m a tad behind on reviewing wines. If you follow the wine blogosphere, you will see that most other wine bloggers reviewed this wine in August or there about.  So I’m tardy to the party, but that’s ok, I’m bringing a wine that will make another great party bottle. Often, I have folks ask me to recommend a “sweet” red wine. Well…ok. Red wine, in general, is not really sweet, unless you’re talking some of those dessert wines with raspberry or chocolate essences infused. Red wine has varying levels of dryness. This wine, the 2008 Apothic Red, is sweet in the sense that it is less dry than other red wines, and would likely be great for the “I don’t like red wine crowd.” Which generally, and with its price, makes is perfect for a party where you have a mix of folks and are going to be serving lots of bottles. The Apothic Red will fit the people looking for a “sweeter” red and there are lots of other options for folks who have a taste for drier reds. The Apothic Red clocked in at 13.1% alcohol by volume, has a MSRP of $14, but is available for around $9, had a real cork closure, and is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, and Merlot.

So here’s where the “sweet” showed up to me right away. On the nose. A snoutful of chocolate syrup, jammy berries, blackberry syrup, blueberry pie, and vanilla. My notes say “really very sweet nose” and “overwhelming chocolate syrup.” Not so much my thing, but like I said, for the “sweet” red wine folks, this is what you are looking for.  In the mouth I got blueberry, blackberry, a chocolate syrup aftertaste, jammy black fruit, and an overall sense of pie.  Basically, if you took slices of blackberry and blueberry pie, blended them together with chocolate syrup, and put it in a glass, this is what the Apothic Red smells and tastes like.


Fancy Decanting

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful….a night that cried out for a Zinfandel, one of my favorite winter red wines.  We dug into our own stash for this wine, looking for something that would warm us to our bones. I pulled out the 2006 Bella Big River Ranch Zinfandel.  I can’t recall what it cost, though I would guess in the $35 range with my club discount, it had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 14.8% alcohol by volume. A word to the wise on this one: leave it in your cellar for a while longer. It’s still a baby and needs a few more years of age to really reach its prime. We stuck our Soiree wine decanter on the bottle and ran it though that, which helped, but it still needed time in the glass to really open up.

On the nose I found raspberry, fresh blackberry, clove, baking spice, pepper, spice, dark fruit, and earthy notes. After a run through the Soiree and some time in the glass, the wine had a great nose that you could get lost in…or could stick your nose so far into that you end up with a red tipped nose! In the mouth I got the same raspberry, blackberry, and dark fruits as I found on the nose, spice, pepper, and charred meat.  I found the palate to be quite spicy and peppery and redder than the nose, and definitely thought it deserved some more bottle age.

Zin Time!

I wrote last week about how all my thoughts turn to white wines during the DC spummall. That’s not totally true. My thoughts also encompass grilling out and bbq and all those good things. Usually to go with that kind of food, you’ll still find me reaching (as fast as I can!) for a nice spicy Zinfandel. We pulled the 2006 Nelson Family Vineyards Zinfandel from our basement tonight to go with the ribs I made. Mmmm. Ribs. I think it cost me around $19 in a club shipment, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 15.7% alcohol by volume.

My first thought on sniffing this Zin was that it seemed pretty port-like with deep dark blackberry aromas and the stronger alcohol. It definitely needed some serious time to air. I also got cream, pepper, spice, and more brambly black fruit. In the mouth I found blueberries, blackberries, spice, pepper, and earth. Overall I found this to be a big, tight wine that really needed to be decanted for a couple hours.

Big ol’ Zin

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample form J. Keverson Winery.

It’s BBQ season. I’m pretending that it hasn’t rained this last week and we are out every night grilling. I love grilling season because Matt likes to grill, which means I don’t have to cook as much, and grilling is super easy since I can leave stuff marinating all day and all we have to do when we get home is toss it on the grill! No prep work at night means we can eat at a (relatively) normal hour even when we don’t get home until 7:30, 8pm… Along with BBQ, comes Zin. Yes, I love my white wines in warmer weather, but nothing quite beats Zin with a good rack of ribs. And that’s what we did this week, using the 2007 J. Keverson Buck Hill Vineyard Zinfandel. This is a big ol’ Zin clocking in at 16.5% alcohol by volume, with a real cork closure, and retailing for about $27.

On the nose I got smoke, plum, currants, blackberries, chocolate, nuts, and more black fruit. In the mouth, plum, blackberries, and other black fruit dominated. The palate rounded out with dusty baking chocolate and cherry. I thought perhaps the alcohol might knock my socks off, but it did not, it integrated well with the tannins and produced a very juicy Zin that complemented our ribs nicely.

Back in the DCV

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Quivira Winery.

The Dry Creek Valley that is. Whenever I open a wine from one of the wineries we visited on our honeymoon, it makes me very happy. Especially when that wine is consistently one I love. Quivira has been one of my favorite wineries since our first visit back in 2006. We’ve been club members since 2006 too, so we’re always enjoying Quivira wines. Tonight we opened the 2007 Quivira Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. It clocked in at 14.9% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and retails for $20 from the winery.

On the nose I found chocolate, black cherry, plums, spice, pepper, cranberry, vanilla, and cream. I loved the nose on this one. Yum. In the mouth I got cranberry, black cherry, spice, pepper, plums, and berries. I found the wine to be quite dark with a smooth finish. I think this would have been great with the herbed parmesan rack of lamb I made a couple weeks ago…

Last of the Lamberts

We visited Lambert Bridge Winery in Dry Creek Valley several trips ago. I think perhaps it was in 2007? Maybe even the trip before that. Anyway, because wine seems to have a habit of getting lost in our cellar, this Zinfandel escaped my notice hiding in the corner until this past week.  We opened up the 2005 Lambert Bridge Winery Ranch Block Zinfandel to go with our eye of the round roast. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, and cost us $30 at the winery. I’m afraid that I almost held this bottle of wine too long. If you have it, drink it up now!

On the nose I found blackberries, black currants, brown sugar, black cherry, spice, pepper, and blueberry. After almost all dark black fruits, the hint of blueberry took me by surprise! In the mouth, in contrast to the nose, I got red berries.  I also found black cherries and blueberries, with just a touch of pepper.  It was smooth and juicy and I think you should consider drinking it asap if you have any kicking around.