It’s Wine Wednesday and I’ve decided to write about a Late Harvest Zinfandel that I tried last week in California. This sweet wine with 9% residual sugar was made by Dashe Cellars. It was savory and sweet at the same time.
I actually like Zin in the right context and this was the perfect moment to drink a late harvest wine, after a morning visiting wineries with good friends, driving on the California freeways listening to the Rolling Stones and a great lunch at Willi’s Seafood. I know, I drank the cool aid, I repeat.
I like sweet wines alone or with cheese and I also like to find ones that are just on the cusp of sweet with balance, elegance and acidity holding up. This Zin had all of that in my book. It also was a novelty which is always fun and the location couldn’t be beat. I’d like to try this wine again in New York, maybe even in a bad neighborhood. Why you ask? I want to assure myself that the location factor isn’t affecting my palate although inevitably context matters.
This Zin was done with minimal intervention according to their website. I like that. One problem I had with the California wines I tried last week was that many seem to be “creations of man” rather than a product of the earth. Too much winemaking went into many of them and I am not that keen on it. That said, this wine tasted like grapes, soil and sun to me, in other words terroir, that of Dry Creek Valley. That’s what I want to taste – dirt. Not in the wine mind you but the dirt where the grapes were grown.
I’ve been in California all week for the Society of Wine Educators Society of Wine Educators conference in San Mateo. It was a very informative conference with a lot of great wines, interesting seminars and friends. It also was held in a hotel with a hot tub, always a plus. I discovered the perfect wine for the hot tub, Blanc de Noirs. I’ve actually had two inexpensive American Blanc de Noirs sparklers this week, one from Gloria Ferrer and one from Korbel.
Made with a majority of Pinot Noir grapes, hence the name Blanc de Noirs, these sparkers both retail for under $10 a bottle, a great price for a fresh summer wine to drink in a relaxed atmosphere such as a hot tub. I don’t have a hot tub at home or even a balcony but I do like to picnic and I could see very easily bringing these widely available ones to a park for summer fun. I know, I’m the old world girl who has fallen for California. I’ve drunk the coolaid but with views like this from my friend’s backyard, you can see why.
I am at the Society of Wine Educators conference in San Mateo, California this week along with many old and new friends. It is an impressive array of wine people from all over the country, with special knowledge about almost every grape on earth. I am quite pleased with the seminars I have attended be they on dry German Riesling, Scotch, Wines of Provence or New Wines of Greece.
What I am most surprised about though is how much I am enjoying all of the seminars I am taking on wines from California. I am a decidedly old wine world gal, by training, “indole” as they say in Italian, and from personal experience. That said, California is creeping into these old world bones, slowly but surely. Just as France never disappeared from my memory despite 15 years in il bel paese – Italy, old world wines will never be replaced but they do have to make room for some new friends.
David Glancy of the San Francisco Wine School did a masterful job of leading us through the California Appellations North to South. I also took a seminar on the wines from Sonoma County and was delighted at a pre-conference jaunt to the Thomas Fogarty winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains earlier in the week, the first appellation to be defined by elevation in the United States. I’m sure today will hold further surprises for me. What has come to mind is why don’t we all live in California? The beauty is hard to beat.
Famed Italian winemaker Josko Gravner told me some years ago that California should grub up all of its’ vines. I wasn’t sure if he was serious at the time but I can say now with ever more certainty that he was sorely mistaken in my view and I wager even he might change that view if he could taste them more fully.
This Dashe 2009 Dry Creek Zinfandel made me a believer. That’s been my theme over the last two days. Yes, I believe again. I believe that Obama can win in 2012 after his State of the Union. Yes I believe he has a vision again. Yes I believe he does care about the 99% again. I’m feeling pretty political these days and ready to work for 2012 which I haven’t for awhile. This flush of optimism about our country led me to think about what I love about America.
I must say, Zinfandel was not first on my list. Howard Zinn yes but Zinfandel never made it into my top ranking. That was before I had the Dashe 2009 Dry Creek Zinfandel at a recent Snooth tasting with Greg and friends like Diane Letulle, Eric Guido, Carly Wray, Sasha Smith and Constance Camberlain. We’ve got a little wine writing thing going on and this Dashe was on my hit parade.
It was fruity without being over the top, acidic and minerally to the right degree, persistent and elegant without being slight, powerful and memorable without being aggressive, kind of like what I would like someone to say about me after our first encounter.
Anyway, point being, this is a keeper and at $20-$25 it won’t break the bank either.
I love sparkling wine at any time of the year but especially around the holidays. Luckily there is some great sparkling wine to be had at most, if not all, restaurants and bars.
This weekend, amid much holiday fun, I had the pleasure of having a number of glasses of the Taittinger Domaine Carneros Brut. It was relatively full-bodied and quite fruity and round for a sparkler. I truly enjoyed it and it can be found in many stores for around $20 a bottle.
I had it at Bar on Fifth. The Setai is a very chic hotel in an odd neighborhood. It was built by an Italian group and looks very Milanese. I wrote this review of the restaurant in the hotel Ai Fiori when it first opened. The bar on the corner in the hotel is also very nice. Relaxing with jazz on different nights during the week.
Although raised in a household with two Jewish parents, I have been celebrating Christmas, complete with a tree, my entire life. I have my own version of Christmas traditions and love the whole season. These photos are some of my favorite New York trees and holiday displays: Rockefeller Center, Union Square, and Christmas ornaments on Sixth Avenue