Monday, March 09, 2009

My Gold Standard in Zinfandel

If you drink a lot of wine, you probably have a few that serve as your "benchmark bottles." These are the wines that set the standard against which you judge similar wines from other producers, other vintages, or even use to compare grape varieties across the globe.

When it comes to Zinfandel, my benchmark bottling--the one that sets the gold standard for me--has been Dry Creek Vineyard's Heritage Zinfandel (suggested retail $17; available for $12-$20). Year in and year out the folks at Dry Creek Vineyard produce a wine that is balanced between fruit and spice. Even better, they don't overdo the alcohol and as a result I can have more than one glass if I want to without regretting it the next morning. If you want to know more about Dry Creek Vineyard and the people behind the wine, check out their blog, Wilma's Wine World.

Like previous vintages of this wine, the 2006 Dry Creek Vineyard's Heritage Zinfandel represents excellent QPR. The wine is predominantly Zinfandel (88%) with some Petite Sirah blended in (12%). It has a rich, dark color and abundant blackberry aromas. The blackberry fruit carries forward into the flavors, where there are also layers of black pepper and baking spices. The wine's overall impression is rich and spicy, but not heavy thanks to the bright fruit at the core.

I've been missing North Carolina, and so we had our Zinfandel with a time-saving take on Carolina-style BBQ: pulled chicken sandwiches with coleslaw. For those who don't know, not all BBQ sauce is tomato-based. This one is vinegar-based, with red peppers and other spices. You shred a store-bought roast chicken into the cooked sauce, pile it on a bun with some coleslaw, and you're as close to North Carolina as you can get without a plane ticket and a BBQ pit. Only a Zinfandel like this one could stand up to that vinegar without clashing, and the blackberry fruit was a nice foil to the spiciness of the sauce.

This vintage confirmed what I already knew. When it comes to Zinfandel, I've got my benchmark and it's from Dry Creek Vineyards.

Full disclosure: I received this wine as a sample.


Claire said...

I agree that the Dry Creek Zin is awesome, especially for the price. We buy it often.

winewhites said...

We've been a member of their wine club for years and they never disappoint. The Mariner, released in 2004 and 2005, is also wonderful.

Kim Wallace said...

One of my blog readers brought this to my attention...very cool! Thanks for the great recommendation.
Kim (aka Wilma)

Steve said...

I look forward to trying the zin.

I had to ask though: you really worry about "the next day" if you have more than ONE glass of wine? My grandma (97) has a manhattan every day, and that's the equivalent of three glasses of wine. I guess it's a rhetorical question. I am jealous of your abstemiousness.

Robert Dwyer said...

I've never had this one, but if I see it in a store I'll give it a whirl for sure. Thanks for the recommendation!

For me, my top 3 Zin producers are:
1) Ridge
2) Seghesio
3) Buehler

The last two can also be had for under $20.