Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Seghesio Zinfandel

Sat 07 Feb 2009

It's been a while since a straight wine tasting note and that's really because we've not been drinking anything too fascinating. A couple of weeks ago Banrock Station's The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz was on offer at Somerfield for £4.49 a bottle ('normally' around the £9 mark) which represented sensational value. I don't think you'd want to pay full tote odds but if you spot it at a reduced price it's definitely worth trying.

If you're looking for a treat and a wine which is worth its price tag (discount or no) then you could do worse than part with £17 (yes, I know, it's a lot of money, but you can't take it with you and you should really spoil yourself every now and then) for the Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2006. This is a huge 16%abv so make sure you have plenty of good food ready to go with it!


Zinfandel doesn't seem to make too many appearances here in the UK (well, unless you're in a pub drinking blush!) - but it's stupidly popular in America, and much of it (like this wine) is grown in California. However, you may find it easier to spot some Italian wines made from Primitivo which is exactly the same grape. And Zinfandels are even starting to come out of Australia (I recommend you keep a look out for Kangarilla Road, from McLaren Vale, which I've seen once or twice).

The wine was a dense ruby colour and I noticed quite a pale rim - it was probably more remarkable because of the intensity of the wine otherwise. In terms of the nose, I struggled a little bit because we were in the middle of freezing weather, snow and chaos and there was no way of getting the wine warm enough! However, I did manage to pick up black berry fruits with some vegetal undertones, some chocolate and just a hint of something aniseedy or licquorice-y.

What was gratifying was that all these (and more!) came through on the palate - especially the chocolate. Masses of chocolate with the black berry fruit in the background and softened by cedar and old leather. The aniseed flavours came through on the finish.

I was a bit alarmed by the alcohol content, but it was really well integrated: the wine finished with heat on your lips rather than catching in the back of your throat. The wine really filled the mouth: the tannins were soft and there was some pretty good acidity which not only provided structure but probably helped balance out the alcohol.

With all of this, there was a lot going on with this wine: the interplay of chocolate and fruit, moving to the developed cedar and leather and finishing up with aniseed and warm alcohol made it very enjoyable to drink. I always find that it takes me longer to drink a better wine: a complex wine with great length makes you want to savour and enjoy what's going on in your mouth, rather than rushing on to the next mouthful.

We drank this with a hearty lamb and lentil dish: it's a bold wine so you don't need to be shy with big flavours. If you need to impress with a red wine - definitely keep this in mind!

1. Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel, Family Vineyards, 2006, £17, Latitude Wine.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alex, I am thrilled that Sonoma County Zinfandels are starting to make their mark across the pond. Yes, they are so much more visible here where it is declared, "America's Heritage Grape" - Primitivo and Plavc Mali non-withstanding. Last month the ZAP Festival offered afficionados Zinfandel from over 275 wineries, over 1000 wines to taste! Seghesio is about four blocks from my house and I think that they are worthy ambassadors of our efforts here to the U.K and beyond. Cheers!

8:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So nice to see a positive review of CA zin! Although I have to admit, I'm often guilty of slagging them off :-)just wish they weren't so expensive. The mark-up is incredible,damn you Brown and Darling with your infernal alcohol taxes!

12:45 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Patrick - I've been a fan of Zins since stumbling upon Ridge (hmm, not the cheapest example, perhaps!). How cool that Seghesio is close to your home - do you get the a discount for being local?! :)

Winesleuth - well, all right thinking people know there should be no tax on wine at all! ;) I think often the problem is that the very best examples of a style stay at home - I know this is the case with much Australian wine. So the stuff that ends up abroad is overpriced and not as good as it could be!

7:57 pm  

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