For 2011, the hot trend in California wine is in the blends. Customer interest is growing as these savory new ideas come to fruition. Value abounds, as these quality wines typically range $15-$30, and smart consumers are showing their good taste by trading up a notch from the value wines they discovered during the downturn in 2008.
For this post, we focus on Zinfandel as a component of the wine blends here at Locals. Great Zinfandel fruit is still harder to come by than some other varietals, which can sometimes be found with great quality, and more inexpensively, at harvest. Then add the challenge to the winemaker’s muse: to make a new and unique combination that pleases, raises the bar, and sets their brand apart from the rest.
So let Locals begin your blending! First up is the new Bedarra 2009 Bonfire ($25). Composed of Sonoma County fruit, it is made of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (30%) and Zinfandel (20%). (This wine follows on the heels of Bedarra’s popular Beachfront white, a satisfyingly cool blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.) Their red blend is fruit forward. Sweet tones arise from the quality oak along with pleasant tannins on finish. Blackberry meets tobacco. With its smooth and satisfying richness, this wine makes a perfect complement to any barbeque, be it on the beach or the backyard.
Second is the Pendleton 2008 Celebration Cuvee ($29). This is Mike Pendleton’s special blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Zinfandel (25%), Petite Sirah (30%), Cabernet Franc (15%) and Petite Verdot (5%). What a yummy mouthful! Long reach across the palate. Drinking with the full voluptuousness of a Bordeaux-style blend, at the same time this savory wine is elevated by just a hint of sweet fruit.
Next we suggest the 2007 Atrea Old Soul Red ($25). Here Mendocino County Zinfandel (43%), Petite Sirah (20%), Syrah (19%) and Malbec (18%) are artfully combined in flavorful American oak. A delightfully sweet nose and finish rests on a rich meaty foundation with excellent balance. This wine is a real crowd pleaser, and also this winery’s biggest seller.
Still available (!), the delectable 2008 Dark Horse Zinfandel/Cabernet Sauvignon Gunfighter Fifth Notch ($20) is the subject of a separate post, click here to read it. The newly released 2007 Ramazzotti Ricordo ($30) is a big and pleasing non-varietal Zinfandel, co-fermented with Petite Sirah, Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Carignane & Chasselas Doré. The co-fermentation is key, as the flavors knit together so well, just as in an old-vine field blend. This wine is a huge Locals favorite every year.
Finally, the 2008 Peterson Vignobles ($32) conveys elegance and finesse. A distinctive blend of Petite Sirah (55%), Old-Vine Carignane (15%), Syrah (15%) and Zinfandel turns the Dry Creek’s Zinfandel paradigm upside down on an artful touch of Zin fruit. Medium-bodied, smoky, fruity, with a touch of dark caramel and pleasant across the palate. Great with ham or prosciutto try it with a PB&J…sliced pears, brie and ham on an artisan roll. Delish!