Tue 23 Jun 2009
You say that you just took a slab of long-smoked ribs or a brace of chile-and-cumin glazed pork chops off the grill?
Look no further than the Sbragia Family Gino’s Vineyard Zinfandel 2006, Dry Creek Valley, for the matching wine. The vineyard holds some sentimental attachment for owner Ed Sbragia; named for his father, it’s where Sbragia played as a child, growing up in Dry Creek Valley. The blend — 85 percent zinfandel, 10 percent carignane and 5 percent petite sirah — is modeled on the zinfandel wines made in the late 19th Century by the Italian immigrant winemakers who settled in Sonoma County and did so much to make the region known for its hearty red wines.
But the reason to pair this wine with your Big, Smoky Red Meat Dishes isn’t sentimental. It’s because this big-hearted, two-fisted old-fashioned zinfandel offers the fruit and substance to stand up to richness and full-flavored cuisine and meet it blow for blow. Scents and flavors of black currant, blueberry and cranberry are permeated by notes of rhubarb, fruit cake, black pepper and fairly toasty oak. Sbragia does like oak; this spends 10 months in 100 percent new French barrels. And while in another wine I might object to this flood of wood, here it sublimates itself to the purposes of framing and foundation for the wine’s structure and serving as a sort of spice accelerator. Of course a wine’s architecture is nothing without a backbone of vibrant acidity and, in the case of red wine, layers of dusty, chewy tannins, which this possesses in abundance. This wine is, overall, an intense and concentrated zinfandel, blessed by not being overripe or jammy, gratifying in its traditional virtues. 14.5 percent alcohol fits the wine like a glove. Drink through 2011 or ’12. Excellent. About $28.
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