American Triumph

American Triumph

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Bold Zin for less than $20

I love Zinfandel. When I lived in California my favorite local wines were almost always Zins, and, interestingly, the name "Zinfandel" is American in origin, dating from the 19th century. The grape strain is purportedly of Croatian origin, and closely akin, genetically speaking, to the Italian Primitivo, but California Zin is truly its own animal. 

Most CA Zinfandel's are high-alcohol, full-bodied wines with jammy fruit flavors of raspberry and cherry combining with peppery, spicy notes of cloves and cinnamon. 

Because black Zinfandel grapes are naturally very high in sugar, Zins are usually higher in alcohol content than other red wines, sometimes as high as 16-17% rather than the more typical 12-14%. So if you've decided to open, and finish, a bottle of Zinfandel, either on your own or with one other person to assist, be prepared to stay put or find yourself a designated driver.

In my search for a good, affordable bottle of Zin at my local wine shop, I stumbled upon a 2008 Pezzi King Dry Creek Zinfandel (purchased for $19; retails for $15-20 across the U.S.). 

This is a big, full-bodied wine, rich purple in color with raspberries and pepper on the nose. It has a high alcohol content of nearly 16%. In the mouth the wine tastes strongly of cherries, tobacco and cinnamon, with a slightly acidic aftertaste. It's balanced but not quite as jammy as I would prefer.

I really enjoyed it on its own but found that it did not pair well with pasta with marinara sauce; the acids in the wine became too prominent. Overall, this is a wine I would purchase again, particularly if I could find it for $15.

GAW Rating: 3/5 (a bold Zin for under $20) 

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