Is that Groucho Marx on the Bluenose label?
No, but the playful image -- the thick eyebrows, the glasses, the mustache -- can't help but make you think of the quick-witted comedian.
The image actually depicts the people of Nova Scotia, whose nickname in the late 18th century was "bluenoses," according to Paul Brasset of Healdsburg's Bluenose Wines.
Brasset is the vintner behind our wine-of-the-week winner, the Bluenose, 2008 Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Zinfandel at $25. It's a zin with a big personality and layered flavors. It's bold and full-bodied, with notes of cherry, blackberry, mocha and licorice.
"I became especially enamored with zinfandel after making home wine back in 1971 from the old Hill Ranch vineyard in Glen Ellen," Brasset said. "It was a field blend, largely zinfandel, and made marvelous wines with great structure and amazing complexity."
Brasset said the most challenging part of making zinfandel is the pick. "The trick is to harvest at just the right time and avoid the sneaky semi-raisins that can spike the sugars that convert to higher alcohols," he said.
Brasset began his tenure in wine as a crush worker at the old Pagani Brothers Winery which later became Kenwood Vineyards. Over the past 30 years, his credits include Clos Du Bois in Geyserville, White Oak Vineyards and Christopher Creek in Healdsburg. Brasset decided to start his own brand in 2002, along with partners John Green and Kent Mitchell.
The winery's tasting room is part of the collective known as Hudson Street Wineries at 428 Hudson St. in Healdsburg. It was originally the site of the historic Roma Wine Co., a winery founded in the late 1800s.
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or firstname.lastname@example.org.