Sorry Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but for me, Turkey Day is All About That Baste –with More Zinfandel!
While I am not sure yet what exactly I will be sipping this holiday season (or on Sunday when we will cook turkey and ham and do some sampling!), what I have learned from previous tastings with various wines and holiday meals is that Zinfandel can handle well turkey, ham, and prime rib — and many of the sides.
Seven Reasons Why I Love a Good Zinfandel on Zin Day or any day:
- A beautiful garnet or ruby jewel color
- A nose full of both floral perfumes (cecil bruner roses!) and fruit — much like walking on a country road in summertime that has
- Plentiful brambleberry fruit, perhaps plum, rich and jammy on the palate.
- While that fruit might tend towards ripe jamminess, it has lots of spice and that fruit is balanced by a firm backbone from acid.
- Nice oak provides structure and aging potential
- Old vine zinfandels remind me how to grow old with grace — and offer a taste of the terroir.
- Zinfandel is an awesome cocktail AND food wine; many pair exceptionally well with both turkey AND ham.
So in anticipation of Zinfandel Day today, I picked up a bottle of Bedrock Zinfandel, and Sue and I tasted it with Thanksgiving and other holiday meals in mind.
Held on the third Wednesday of November, the fifth annual Zinfandel Day features events at wineries, wine bars and restaurants including special tastings and menu pairings at restaurants and wineries across the United States. Find Zinfandel Day events near you!
Or simply open a bottle where ever you are and join the conversation using the hashtag #Zinfandel or #ZinfandelDay.
What to choose? Although I love Zinfandel, I drink it — it just doesn’t last long in my cellar, partly because it offers so much for such a great price. Trader Joe’s usually has amazing zinfandels in the $10-$15 price point– check out the wines under their own label as one of the best zins I had in 2015 came from Howell Mountain and it was under their label. Sadly, it was gone by the time I went back to get more!
As I neglected to ask Sue to bring a bottle from Cantara Cellars where she works for us to review (and wow, does winemaker Mike Brown know his way around Lodi Zin! read a review here) or to grab a bottle from Four Brix, another Ventura County winery that makes a really snazzy zin (and where Sue is a member and where there was a pick up party and holiday shopping extravaganza over the weekend), like most people, I stopped by my favorite local wine merchant: in my case, Ventura Wine Company.
Just a week ago, Ventura Wine Company hosted their annual holiday wine tasting party where I had the opportunity to taste a number of great wines (sparkling wine tasting coming Sunday December 13 2-4pm; tickets are $60).
There I affirmed my appreciation for Sextant’s Wheelhouse Zinfandel (which the Ventura Wine Company does NOT carry), a wonderful juicy rich zinfandel with good structure and a great value at low $20s. I also tasted this year’s Sextant Zinfandel which is quite good for $14. Read about the Sextant Zinfandel and more zins here).
A real winner of a zinfandel that I tasted at the Ventura Wine Company is the Della Costa Family Vineyards 2010 Dancing Lady Old Vine Zinfandel (around $20 at the Ventura Wine Company). Very intense fruit flavors — think blackberry pie– smooth, luscious, satisfying. This zinfandel would make just about anyone at the table happy. Rumour has it that these are family growers of the zin that goes into Seghesio wines at a much higher price! And it just might be my go-to zin this year…
For this Zinfandel Day I picked up:
Bedrock Wine Co. – 2013 – Old Vine Zinfandel – 14.5% – $23.99
A young full bodied wine with a bit of a rough finish, this Bedrock Zin has a nice floral nose with plentiful brambly fruit, smoky oak, and hints of eucalyptus and sage. Think about walking down a eucalyptus, wild rose, and blackberry lined lane in summer.
Very tight coming out of the bottle, the Bedrock OV Zin opened up after corkage in about 30 minutes. However, it is not a fruit bomb like so many jammy zins and never will be. Fruit tends toward raspberries and tart cherry tempered by that smoky oak, herbs, and pepper.
While legally a zinfandel, the grapes come from old vines from across California, averaging 80 years, many from vineyards that have a smattering of different offerings; many immigrants planted the grapes they new and loved from home and they planted them all in the field together: it has almost 23% Carignane, Mourvedre, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Abouriou, Aubun, and even a bit of a few white varieties! This lends to the wine’s complexity.
Don’t drink this wine for 2015 Thanksgiving (or anytime too soon!) Instead, hang on to it for a few years. It should mellow nicely, it has great potential, but it is just too young right now to really enjoy straight out of the bottle. Zinfandels are so fantastic when they are aged– and rarely do people take the time to age them.
If you do choose to drink this zin sooner rather than later, decant it: it needs some aeration to really be appreciated.
Also, pair this Zin with very fatty foods. We enjoyed fatty salamis and soprosettos; they are nice with the wine and seem to calm it down. Salami cheese sandwich with the wine is very nice. We can imagine it would be great with ham or osso busco, not so good with turkey.
Overall, the Bedrock OV Zinfandel is a lot of wine for the money– but think of it as a longer term investment, not instant gratification. It does indeed meet the winery’s goal:
- To channel the fruit of ancient vines into powerful, elegant, and distinctly Californian wines.
Watch for more zinfandel reviews during this holiday season!
Read more that I’ve written about zin here:
Great zins for as low as $12 like Rodney Strong‘s Knotty Vines
Read more about red wine pairs with ham.
Read more about wine pairs with holiday fares.
Read more about red wine and turkey.