Sat 21 Mar 2009
I’m still “under the weather” a bit, so when LL asked if I would like a sandwich for lunch, like, how about grilled cheese with tomatoes and sausage and a glass of wine, my response was, Well, hell, yeah!
The cheeses were Gruyere and goat Gouda, the sausage a saucisson sec we keep on hand, also useful for pizza and pastas. When I mentioned that the sandwiches were like panini, except not pressed, she made a squashing gesture with her hands and said, “Oh, I pressed them, too,” meaning with a pot-lid in the skillet, which, when you think about it, must have been how cooks in Italy made panini before panini presses were invented. Anyway, the sandwich was delicious. Not that my lunch was better than yours. I’m just saying.
For wine, we finished a bottle of the Sausal Winery “Family” Old Vine Zinfandel 2006, from Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. The “Family” zinfandel represents the youngest of the winery’s estate vineyards, where the vines average 50 years old; also produced are zinfandels from vines that are 90 years old and 130 years old.
The Sausal “Family” Old Vine Zinfandel 2006 is one of the loveliest, deftest, most precisely balanced zinfandels I have ever tasted. Initially, it’s hearty and robust, exuberant with acidity and tannic power but never boisterous or bumptious; that was with meatloaf. Coming back to it the next day, though, was a revelation. The wine teemed with notes of prunes and black plums, cinnamon and allspice, fruitcake, black currant, blueberry and mulberry. Sweetly ripe, seductive and a little exotic, the wine offers beautiful equilibrium and poise, along with great swaths of earth and minerals and real tannic grip, as well as the structure and spice that come from aging 21 months in French and American oak barrels, 50 percent each. Luscious black fruit flavors are held steady by the slight rigor and austerity of the wood and tannins, yet the wine has to give itself over to the blandishments of rose petals, violets and smoke. An immensely satisfying zinfandel to drink through 2011 or ’12. Excellent. About $19, making it Great Value.