All bitching and moaning aside, since summer is approaching that can only mean that for most of the United States, barbeque season is too. I say most because for those of us that live in places like San Diego, it's always barbeque season. Now that I've rubbed some of your faces in the fact that you cannot grill year round, let's get back on topic. Grilled foods have their own unique set of flavors and as such they beg for bolder wines.
Here's where I start to deviate from the accepted norm. Bold wine does not have to be high in alcohol or so disturbingly fruity and jammy that you feel like you're eating preserves. What it can be is wine with a distinctive set of flavors of greater intensity than the background, or supporting flavors. Put more bluntly, the high alcohol, fruit bomb, overly extracted Zinfandel's and Syrah's (and Shiraz's too!) make me cringe. I think they flat out suck. I know that wines with those characteristics can get high scores and big press, good for them I say.
My little rant is over now, so let's talk about a refreshingly un-bombastic Zinfandel I had the other day.
2007 Folie a Deux Amador County Zinfandel
Most people I've asked immediately conjure up the "Menage a Trois" that Folie a Deux makes. Having had it before, it's definitely not my style, but does please the masses as evidenced by it's continued sales success.
Therefore, when I was told to try this bottle, I admit to having reservations. Images of a giant, oak laden fruit bomb flashed in front of me. Would this be my kind of Zin? Did it have the pepper, spice and earthy qualities I love?
It did actually, what a delicious bottle! For $10, you get spices, blackberries, plums, bramble and mocha on the nose. The plummy, blackberry jam notes verged on being overly fruity but that terrific spice and crushed black pepper framed the wine's bouquet. It was like a restraining hand on the shoulder (of the bottle!!) saying "easy there guys, let's not get too crazy".
Bearing in mind some of the prevailing styles of California Zinfandel from Amador County, I still think this was a medium bodied example. I tasted ripe, fleshy fruit contrasting with dark chocolate and spices. The tannins were silky smooth but had enough strength to provide the backbone this wine needed. There was heat on the finish, but only just so. That in itself was impressive, sometimes California Zins are ridiculously hot, ruining the taste. This Zinfandel clocks in at 14.5% according to the label, still a far cry from the 12-13% Zinfandel of years past but not too bad.
A fine effort from Folie a Deux, considering it was $10. Easily a B+ and a BUY recommendation from me. I have one more bottle and will be pairing it with a rib-eye and a barbeque'd potato recipe I want to try out. Hopefully I'll remember to bring the camera and take pictures of that whole endeavor.