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Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Breezes, California Zinfandel and the backyard BBQ season

Well how's everyone's summer going thus far? I know for many of you it's hot, hot, hot which is not the most comfortable of situations to be in and maybe you're not embracing the summer thus far, but for many it's "grilling season" and to me and many other wine lovers, that means one thing will be coming out of the cellar and being uncorked in more plentiful numbers than anything else, what's that you may ask, Zinfandel.

Some of you could be thinking um- no, Rosé  is my go-to wine of choice during the warm summer months and I agree it does have its place as well but, it can't stand up to charred delights the way a good Zin can and if you give a swirl, I'm sure you'll agree.

What you have when you open a bottle of Zin is powerful dark fruit flavors, distinctive spice, pepper and cinnamon notes, swirling around hard to define floral undertones, all culminating in an effort to balance the high alcohol, resulting in the what many will call the perfect barbecue wine. I've described Zin this way to friends willing to listen to me blather on, as the ultimate party wine, because it requires no decanting or coaxing it from its shell. Zinfandel just jumps up out of the bottle and into your glass, ready to impress even the most finicky of palates, cooling, sweet fruit flavors and good acidity combine to create the classic complement to whatever charred and smokey item you may cook up this summer.

Just the other day I posted the "live" version "summer breezes" on my FB page as I was reminiscing [cause that's what you do when approaching the half century mark] about my days as a youth growing up here in San Diego, hearing "Summer Breezes" playing on the radio in seventy two, whilst on my way to the beach. It's a song which to me succinctly says summer is here, it's time for beach-side, backyard barbeque's, and longer sun-lit days filled with sand, surf, sun and most of all fun. Here are a few lyrics from the song, which speaks so much eloquently than my own words could possible convey and please watch the video to be fully transported to the past.

"Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom, July is dressed up and playing her tune, When I come home from a hard days work, And you're waiting there, not a care in the world, See the smile a-waiting in the kitchen, Food cooking and the plates for two, Feel the arms that reach out to hold me, In the evening when the day is through, Summer breeze makes me feel fine, Blowing through the jasmine in my mind".....Seals and Croft 1972

But for me, its not jasmine blowing through my mind, it's a wine-tastic Zin I just encountered still swirling about my palate, reminding me of what many consider the quintessential summer wine [love using that word] quaff. That's why today I want to introduce to everyone my thoughts on a wine which you may have previously encountered where you shop. As it can be found just about every where you look and that is the Ravenswood Vintners blend a blend in more ways than one as you will see when I break it down for you below.

First Swirl: Once I uncorked the bottle and poured myself a glass and tilting it down to examine the color, I found it to have typical, zesty red berry colored core and lightly colored cranberry rim.

First Sniff: After giving it a few good swirls in my glass and sticking my fat half Irish nose against the rim, I found a not too impressive array of cherry, cranberry, tar, and fruity floral scents. Meaning it didn't jump out at me, right away, I had to give more thought about what I was smelling.

First Sip: Okay maybe my first slurp, no really I just sipped it at first to get a general feel for this wine. I would say it lacks a tight focus, but offers wild berry and blackberry fruit that's supported by tangy acidity, firm tannins, with a undefined finish.

Aging and ABV: This wine was aged 12 months in 100% French oak, with 25% of those barrels being new. The ABV is 13.5%.

The Blend: This wine is mostly 77% Zinfandel, but 18% Petite Sirah is added for color and 5% Carignane to fill out the background, with the fruit sourced from 3 different areas in Lodi, Amador and Mendocino.

Price and where to Purchase: This wine is selling for the SRP of $9.99 and on sale some places for $7.99 depending on where and when you shop. It can be found just about anywhere wine is sold, but typically at a grocery outlet near you, with massive availability.

The Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 87 points on the Cuvée Corner 100 point scale.

Full Disclosure: Hello FTC and everyone else, yes this bottle was sent for review to the Cuvée Corner Wine Blog, by Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma.

About Ravenswood: One of the more interesting aspects of who Ravenswood is exemplified is their a rally cry which states, "No Wimpy Wines" and has defined them as a winery for decades, in fact for more than three decades, according to their website, " it has been the mission of Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma, California to embrace the bold and avoid the bland." I've had a chance to visit this winery myself about 5 years ago and I was very excited then about what I tasted, brought back home and look forward to giving some of their other wines a swirl once more [It has been far too long].

With/Without Food: I hear so often the question, oh my what to pair? It's a good question and one easy to answer if you've been invited to a party or perhaps you're throwing a backyard barbecue, just about Zinfandel will work marvelously as your go-to wine of choice in these situations.

My Recommendation: Okay first of all let me say, even my dog liked this wine. He normally only likes white wines, but when he tasted this wine he lapped it up like no tomorrow. Now that you have the endorsement of this little Mini-Poo here's what I think, this is a readily drinkable little quaff that will delight most of the BBQ crowds and would be great for impromptu entertaining. It's easy on the wallet and a fantastic value for the money. You can find this wine just about anywhere and really anytime you could need it. Until next time stay thirsty, sip long and prosper cheers!

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