Grazie, Graziano!

Long time, no blog!  I haven’t found the time to blog in a while, but that does not mean I haven’t been “researching” plenty (read: drinking delicious wines on regular occasion).  I’m going to try to do a few posts to catch up a bit.  So… the subsequent reviews will be from summer/fall 2010 events.  Luckily, my friends have obliged and joined me for the fun.  So- first up!?  Graziano- a Zinfandel from Mendocino, California!

The Setting: Earlier this summer, I met up with a friend for a bottle and dinner.  Not knowing what we were going to have, I picked up a California Zin because they tend to have a lot of good flavor but are not overpowering.  So, they end up matching well with a variety of meats, fish or even something spicy (and given the option, my meals tend to be just that)!  After a bit of contemplation we decided on ordering from a delicious Davis Square restaurant—the Yak and Yeti.  They specialize in Nepalese and Indian cuisine- which of course meant a serious array of curry, cumin, ginger, onion and garlic.  Mmmm spice!

The Grape: I really love a decent Zinfandel.  I think the domestic Zins are actually quite good.

Editor’s note: I’ve mentioned this before, but one thing that shows up on a Zinfandel label that’s truly a misnomer—is “Old Vine.”  That phrase has absolutely NO definition.  So it might make you feel good to get one that’s ostensibly made with some old, sustained, classic vine—it’s not necessarily nearly as old as some other non-old vine- vine from another vineyard.  Zins termed “old vine” do tend to be made with THAT vineyard’s oldest vines, but there’s really no guarantee of that.

Graziano Basics:
Varietal Composition: 97% Zinfandel, 2% Carignane, 1% Primotivo
Harvest: October, 2004.
Aging: Barrel aged a total of 18 months in combination of French, American and Eastern European oak (30% new).
Alcohol Level: 14.5%
Acid Level: .78 g/100 ml

Color: Darker, purple, garnet- tends to mean good flavor in my book.  Light reds (looks like juice) are often a bit acidic and will not stand up to food, at all.  If you’re just in the mood to party with fruity wines though, head for the rosey white zin, by all means!

Texture: Nice legs! I mean… the wine!  The legs (remnants from swirling the wine onto the sides of your glass), are pretty long lasting on this Zin.  That speaks to 2 things- 1: a denser, more viscous wine- a little more substantial tasting vs. a light white wine for example and 2: higher alcohol content.  Wines from CA are getting up there- this is at 14.5%– typical European wines are closer to 12%.  Higher alcohol shouldn’t be apparent in taste, and I don’t think it’s notable here.  You can tell after a few glasses though 🙂  Way to go big or go home, America!

Taste:  Ok, if you like a spicy taste and also the flavor of plum?  You’ll like this.  It’s full of flavor and I could taste the fruit (without much acidity) through the finish.  The smell, despite the distracting spicy aromas of the Yak and Yeti dishes, was really potent- you could get cherry and plum right off the bat.  Of course the smelling process didn’t take long—I was thirsty!  The taste was great—it opens with the aforementioned plum, an almost tart cranberry and a little earthy wood– looked it up to find out it was likely the sandalwood coming through.  Sandalwood– yum?  The wine was aromatic—meaning it kind of filled my mouth more than with the wine itself, but the flavors, spice and aromas made it just really satisfying to sip.  It was a delicious compliment to the spicy dishes!


I would suggest this with almost any substantial dinner—we had it with chicken, lamb and spices- and I think that was a great pairing.  I think it might overwhelm a measly salad, but a zesty salad with some herbs and a variety of veggies might be just fine.  It was so drinkable- it could easily stand on its own too, or paired with a strong cheese- an aged Cheddar, smoked mozzarella or gorgonzola.  Happy feasting!!


Price Point: $13

JuliaUncorked says: 8/10.  A great idea for dinner! (A note of honesty:  if it cost $11, I’d be more likely to buy it, but it’s still worth the purchase if you see it under $14.)

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