Do you have a taste for history?
"Having the opportunity to drink wine from vines that are sometimes over 80 years old is a bit like tasting history itself," says Eric Aafedt.
Aafedt is behind our wine-of-the-week winner -#8212; the Bogle Vineyards, 2011 California Old Vine Zinfandel at the budget-savvy price of $11.
"Zinfandel is unique in that there remain many 'old-vine' vineyards out there producing great quality wine in many regions," said Aafedt, director of winemaking of Bogle Winery in Clarksburg. "These head-trained vines are rich in history and flavor."
The Bogle zin is intense, with great concentration of flavor, surprisingly so for an $11 wine. It has aromas and flavors of black raspberry, blackberry, herbs with a kiss of vanilla.
"I'm shooting for a well-extracted, fruit-forward, balanced wine with a subtle complement of American oak," Aafedt said. "Although this zin is 14.5 percent alcohol, it's balanced and doesn't show heat on the finish."
The most challenging part of making zinfandel is getting the grape at pitch-perfect ripeness, he said.
"Maturing zinfandel grapes ripe enough to showcase all of their character while not over-ripening and creating an overly alcoholic wine is key," Aafedt said.
Comfort food and a jammy zin is the perfect match for the chill of winter and fortunately the Bogle zin fits that "jammy" flavor profile.
"The jam fruit, black pepper and a warm finish make this zin a perfect pairing with a hearty dish on a cold winter night," Aafedt said.
He says what happens behind the scenes to make this zin a standout is the winery's focus on old-vine prowess.
"Bogle's viticulture team is tireless in their pursuit of the highest quality 'old vine' zinfandel across the state of California," Aafedt said.
<strong>Wine of the Week: Scouting for the tastiest mixed reds</strong>
<em>Wine writer Peg Melnik had a blind tasting this week of mixed reds, searching out some hearty, cool-weather wines. While the entire flight was tasty, our wine-of-the-week winner is the Bogle Vineyards, 2011 California Old Vine Zinfandel at $11.</em>
<strong>TOP PICK: Bogle Vineyards</strong>
<strong> Bogle Vineyards, 2011 California Old Vine Zinfandel,</strong> 14.5 percent alcohol, $11. **** A zin with intensity and great concentration of flavor, surprisingly so for an $11 wine. Aromas and flavors of black raspberry, blackberry, herbs and a kiss of vanilla. Nice length.
<strong>Other impressive wines:</strong>
<strong> Sebastiani, 2011 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon,</strong> 13.5 percent, $20. **** A round cab with good structure and firm tannins. Notes of black cherry, licorice and cocoa, with a lingering finish. Well done.
<strong>Grgich Hills Estate, 2009 Napa Valley Merlot, 1</strong>4.8 percent, $42. **** A lovely merlot with bright acidity and firm tannins. Aromas and flavors of cherry, strawberry and black pepper. Seamless texture. Very tasty.
<strong>Dry Creek Vineyard, 2011 Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel,</strong> 14.5 percent, $30. **** A sexy zin with bright cherry and black raspberry flavors, with notes of herb and white pepper. Racing acidity. Gorgeous.
<strong>Palmeri, 2011 Sonoma County Red Wine,</strong> 14.8 percent, $54. *** 1/2 Complex with aromas and flavors of black raspberry, black cherry, cedar and dark chocolate. Firm tannins. Deep and brooding? Absolutely.