What’s my go to wine for Thanksgiving or other holiday meals? While Oprah and others suggest Pinot Noir, for me, there’s a one word answer, ZINFANDEL! There’s a reason this is the fourth most planted grape in California, and it’s not just White Zinfandel: Zinfandel vilified in the traditional way is deliciously juicy, versatile with food, and typically an affordable pleasure. Whether you’re having traditional turkey and all the trimmings, ham, or prime rib, Zinfandel pairs the best with the range of sweet, savory, herbal, and over the top combinations of dishes that define this culinary event for many people. And to remind you of the myriad ZIN-FULpleasures of Zinfandel, ZAP (Zinfandel Advocacy group) brings to us on the second Wednesday of November, ZINFANDEL DAY!
If you want to bring a bottle of Zinfandel that is guaranteed free from pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, look no further than the Slow Wine Guide. For two summers now, Sue Hill and I have had the pleasure of tasting several Zinfandel for Slow Wine Guide. Note: A wine from the Slow Wine Guide along with the book makes a great gift for your host, family, or friends!
For example, consider this Slow Wine Guide Zinfandel: From El Dorado county, Madroña Hillside Zinfandel, 2020, (99% Zinfandel, 1% Barbera), aged in neutral oak, only 259 cases and only $22 SRP: Red and black licorice aromas preface bramble berry, mulberry, and dark chocolate covered boysenberry with balanced acidity and Sierra spice.
We had just finished our Zinfandel tasting last week for this post with five Zinfandel from five regions of California paired with a vegetarian menu (read all about it here) and where four of the wineries are featured in Slow Wine Guide, when I heard from the Prisoner Wine Company: they were offering to send along some samples, including a SALDO Zinfandel. When I said yes, if it can arrive in time for Zinfandel Day, the next day someone from Drizzly handed a red bag to my husband at work, and Sue and I were set for a tasting. Notes below.
- Baked brie
- Split pea soup with smoked ham and cornbread
- Braised Chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes
2021 SALDO California Zinfandel
Sample for my review consideration.
The name SALDO comes from the Italian word for “I join or I weld” and the name reflects their winemaking mission: to welding together wines from the best vineyards. The bold red label reading SALDO looks a lot like the original dymo label that graced the first bottle the founding winemaker brought a bottle straight from the lab to his first buyer meeting.
“I’m fascinated by the history of Zinfandel in California. The old vine vineyards and the generations of families dedicated to growing and preserving these historic vines makes Zinfandel a truly special variety,” shares Chrissy Wittmann, Winemaker, on the Saldo website.
From the website, it appears that following 75% or more of Zinfandel, the wine is comprised of Petit sirah, Grenache, Primitivo, and Syrah grown and gathered from vineyards in various parts of California.
Appearance: Very plummy, dense and dark.
Aroma: With it’s rich heady aroma of plum and tobacco it reminds Sue of a hooka bar. I also found coconut oil, and we both noticed cocoa nibs and fresh roses.
Palate: Cinnamon, nutmeg, very heavy oak, leather, plum, ripe cherry, black licorice.
Pairing: For an appetizer, baked brie with orang peel, lavender, and honey is a very nice companion to the wine as the fatty richness of the brie tames the big oak characteristic. The big fruit in the wine is enhanced by the orange and herbs while the astringency of the oak is absorbed by the baked cheese. The smoked ham in the split pea soup brings out the sweet fruit in the wine and mellows the oak treatment. The cornbread with the soup was also quite nice so the wine should go perfectly with a cornbread dressing on Thanksgiving day. Also paired well with the Wine Harvesters chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes, If you are going to have smoked ham or turkey, think about selecting this wine for Thanksgiving, or if you’re not sure what’s on the menu, and you want to bring a big, bold, powerful, oaky wine, consider this one.