Tue 14 Oct 2008
Casting about for a bottle to open with Saturday night’s pizza, I came across the Windsor Sonoma Zinfandel 2006 from Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley and thought, “O.K., why not?”
The pizza was pretty simple: a layer of fresh basil leaves, shredded; thinly sliced rings of bell pepper and then also very thin slices of tomato, so thin that it was all right to let them over-lap; a scattering of chopped green onion; a sprinkling of smoked bacon diced; fresh mozzarella cheese, some feta and a final grating of Parmesan. I cooked the pizza in a 475-degree oven for 10 minutes and then slid it out on the paddle and took it outside where a bank of glowing hardwood charcoal was waiting in the grill. Two minutes on the grate with the lid closed gives the pizza a wonderful charred bottom and an intriguing smoky aspect. Yum!
At about 14.9 percent alcohol, the Windsor Somona Zinfandel 2006 is not outrageously heady. In fact, let’s begin with what the wine is not; it’s not super-rich, super-ripe, flamboyant or opulent; it doesn’t smell and taste like boysenberry tart; it doesn’t feel heavy or sweet with alcohol. In other words, this is a lovely expression of zinfandel (with 11 percent carignan) that feels old-fashioned in its poise and balance from beginning to end. The wine is quite dry but warm and spicy and inviting; fruit is mulberry, dried blueberries and dried cherries infused with dried baking spices and potpourri. There are hints of smoke and oolong tea, a touch of violet. Tannins are polished and well-rounded; 18 months in French and American oak (40 percent new) gives this wine a firm and supple structure. The finish is lingering and fairly austere as tannins congregate at the end. Drink this classic zinfandel from now through 2012 or ’13 with hearty fare: big pizzas and pasta ragus; grilled red meat; barbecue brisket and chili. Excellent. About $24.