Great wine from great grapes: Ed Sbragia, right, and his son Adam Sbragia at their family winery in the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma, Calif. (Photographs provided)
Three years is far too long without seeing your firstborn, young sons and their mother, but complications from Covid-19 and a passport that disappeared into the government’s jaws in March put me in that position. . On Sunday it was over and my wife cooked a lovely welcome meal which was served to our house.
We started the evening with a glass of 2021 Sasha Lichinthe pale Pink. In 2006, Sacha took over Château d’Esclans with the aim of creating some of the greatest wines in the world.
He revolutionizes the rosé of Provence and develops whispering angel in the trendiest Provençal pink. He turned to new areas with the pale. Made with grapes from the Vin de Pays Du Var region of Provence, this is a classic Mediterranean rosé with a twist.
It’s a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, but from a region renowned for its excellent value for money. It’s deliciously dry and refreshing with bright red fruit flavors and a clean, crisp finish. Passionate about wine wrote the magazine, “bright and fruity, bubbling with pink fruit and fragrant acidity, this is an attractive, immediately drinkable wine.” $23.70 (stock no. 8113).
A beef tenderloin was on the BBQ and my son has often told me about the zinfandels he has enjoyed over the years. It seemed the most appropriate, and we were ready.
2012 Wild Hogge Moongate de Paso Robles was poured, and in January 2021 I wrote: “If you used the grape in Croatia, you would call it ‘tribidraq’ or ‘crljenak kastelanski’; in Italy the label read “primitivo” and in California “zinfandel”. Huw and Dale Morris call their blend of 75% zinfandel, 13% syrah and 12% cabernet franc, moongate, and we know that they do so because of their long association with Bermuda, they prefer to call the major grape variety primitivo.
Their website reads: “Primitivo, an Italian zinfandel, brings a unique taste of rich ripe fruit. The Cab Franc adds a little black pepper, and the spicy Syrah balances the richness of the primitivo. Aged in American oak barrels for two years and bottled for another two years, the wine has a powerful aroma of earth and dark berries. The palate has a rich texture and hints of blackberry jam. One hundred and seventy-seven cases were produced.
This wine, at ten years old, is at my optimum age, with some of the excitement of youth still there, but now showing what age can offer in tertiary flavors. $39.90 (stock no. 5967).
Although the bottle is not finished, we have opened a bottle of 2019 Dry Creek Heritage Vines Zinfandel just to compare young and then aged versions of this variety. The younger wine is 81% Zinfandel and 19% Petite Sirah. It’s still a favorite in our house and reviewer Jeb Dunnuck rates this vintage 92/100 as he comments: “Shown beautifully with a sheer, silky textured style along with classic plums and berries, hints of incense , pepper, and orange blossom. Drink this lovely, voluptuous beauty over the next five to seven years.” $32.95 (Stock No. 6507).
We could have opened 2017 Sbragia “Gino’s” Zinfandel which we keep on hand, and it would have evoked fond memories of our old friend Ed Sbragia and his family winery in the far north of Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. He started his own business after thirty-two years at the head of Beringer’s winemaking team.
This very special Zinfandel has been aged in new French oak barrels for 20 months, to help bring out its quintessential Dry Creek Zinfandel characteristics, which include bramble fruit aromas and intense flavors of blackberry and raspberry. .
Subtle floral, brown sugar and spice notes are apparent on the mid-palate while wonderful depth of flavor leads to a juicy finish. $42 (stock no. 6803).
I recently wrote about Bogle Old Vines Zinfandel 2019 so we won’t say much about sixty to eighty-year-old vines that add raspberries, peppercorns, juniper, dried herbs and vanilla to this wine aged for a year in American oak barrels. At $24.30, it’s the perfect accompaniment to burgers on the grill. (Stock #8042).
Let’s end this mainly zinfandel column with 2020 Orin Swift 8 years in the desert. You may be wondering how a wine can have such a name, so here is my take. Dave Finney, founder of Orin Swift, developed a uniquely named wine that became a big hit.
A large wine company came along and bought this brand for $285,000,000, but since the wine was made from Zinfandel, an agreement was signed that he would not work with this variety for eight years.
He wandered in this wasteland for the time it took and therefore gives us this blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah.
The winery comments: “Our relationship with zinfandel goes back 20 years. Orin Swift Cellars started with two tons of Zinfandel in 1998 – perhaps the largest two tons we have ever purchased. Very often, you learn more from your failures than from your successes. What we learned from these two tons is that there is no miracle solution or alchemy once the grapes are in the vat room. You can only make great wine from great grapes. This truism applies to Zinfandel more than any other grape variety.”
This wine is bright purple in the glass and is the epitome of their style, the reason they are here in the first place.
Upon pouring, the aromas hit the nose squarely with a perception of sweetness: pure bramble raspberry juice and blueberry jams with a hint of white pepper and High Sierra forest floor.
Yet the sweetness perceived on the nose is just that – perceived – and does not carry over into the mouth. Lush and enveloping with a beam of acidity, notes of blackberry tart, plum and kirsch blossom. It ends with ultra-round tannins and lingering raspberry. $62.35 (Stock No. 6651).
Rest assured that any of these zinfandel-based wines will enhance meats cooked on the outdoor grill. Enjoy!
• This column is an infomercial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at email@example.com. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm