Our Wine of the Week, Bella 2010 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($25), has a dark sensuality to it, a lushness that evokes moonless summer nights, when the Milky Way pulses overhead and the air is as warm as an embrace.
The wine spills over the palate with a delightful juiciness and none of the alcoholic heat that many zinfandels have these days; it weighs in at under 14 percent, which warrants a high five with the winemaker. Can we all shout “thank you!” together?
There's plenty of Dry Creek Valley's classic red raspberry flavor in this wine, along with delightful flourishes of Santa Rosa plum, which adds a profound “yum” factor. Little threads of white pepper, black pepper and sweet spices are stitched throughout the fruit foundation and linger pleasantly on the wine's pretty finish.
At the table, it is hard to go wrong. Summer tomatoes, almost anything from the grill, all manner of pizza, creamy polenta, grilled tuna and roasted sweet peppers are all perfect companions for this quaffer. Tomato-based gazpachos, tomato soups and classic spaghetti with meat sauce work beautifully, too.
For today's recipe, I keep thinking of the wine's dark sensuality, which in turn takes me back to a favorite risotto made with red wine and black olives. To engage the wine's lighter qualities, I've added simple fresh tomato concasse and basil. For the best match, use this wine and not another in the risotto.
Olive Risotto with Tomato Basil Sauce
Makes 4 servings
Tomato Concasse (recipe follows)
2 thyme sprigs
6 cups vegetable broth, hot
cup olive oil
3 shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cups Vialone Nano or Carnaroli rice
—Black pepper in a mill
cup medium-bodied red wine
8 ounces pitted olives (a mix of Kalamata, Niçoise, California black and oil-cured), minced
cup (about 3 ounces) grated Vella Dry Jack or Valley Ford Estero Gold cheese