Opened this Leese-Fitch zinfandel earlier in the week but finished it off this evening to complement a Blue Apron meal that consisted of sautéed beef and roasted eggplant. I had selected the 2015 Zinfandel (and a Cab too) from Winestore not from the reputation of the winemaker, which was new to me, but rather the grape and the price point. It’s got great value at $10 and I would highly recommend if price is a driving force in your wine selection.
Sneaky by the Leese-Fitch team is the 18% Petite Sirah that they added to the wine, and even as I write here I’m not sure if I’ll classify this bottle as a zin or a red blend. Suffice it to say you’ll drink with a smile regardless, so let us not split hairs. It pours dark purple and has notes of blackberry and spices (thanks to the PS) in your glass, and it has that plus tastes of cherry and dark berries on the palate. This is one of those times you should drink not with some preconceived notion of taste, i.e., governed by price, but rather just enjoy for what it is–fun, easy-drinking zinfandel.
Mine accompanied a Middle East-influenced beef dish, served with roasted eggplant and spinach on a bed of rice that was kicked up thanks to an “Afghan-style” spice blend*. A creamy cucumber salad on the side was cool and refreshing, offsetting the spices of the main dish. I nearly blew the timing of the meal as I worked to free the eggplant from the sheet pan but if you look at the image here you’ll see I did recover in time (and yes ate ‘both’ portions). The 2015 zinfandel from Leese-Fitch was great with this meal, its earthy qualities calming to the spices too. Since I had opened it earlier in the week, the combo was more happy accident than intention but still effective. Thanks for reading and have a great day.
* Peppery nigella seed, cassia, and bittersweet saffron.
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If you having been reading Notes this summer, you may recall that a percentage of sales from this Baron Cooper Old Vine Zin, produced by the folks at Tamura Vineyard in Lodi, go to Best Friends Animal Society. Two of my favorite things in this life are good wines and dogs. When you can help change the lives of dogs while drinking, you’re doing just fine.
The 2012 comes from winemaker Greg Burns, and its cooperage is American Oak. That’s me doing some research for you, readers; I actually can’t taste the oak here myself. Instead, I have all kinds of smooth, juicy berry flavors on my palate. There is strawberry and blackberry to be sure, and just a little bit of spice that is textbook Zinfandel. Some pepper, too. It’s a medium red in your glass and very even in its taste.
Tonight the Baron accompanies steaks (grilled in the cover of rain and darkness) and yellow beans, and the wine holds its own. It’s just a bit lighter than a Cab but makes up for that in cheery and cherry goodness and that spice kick in your mouth.
I do not know Catherine Fallis by name or reputation, but as Master Sommelier for Planet Grape, you should know that she gave 97 points to this 2012 Baron Cooper Zinfandel. I’m just going to tell you that it’s a great drink, and you’d do well–and help better the lives of dogs–if you picked up a bottle or two of this affordable wine. You’ll thank me.
September of 2014 the good folks at Buena Vista shipped us the Karoly’s Zinfandel, and you know for damn sure this Russian River red sat beckoning from our wine rack each and every day until this holiday weekend when it finally made its appearance at our dinner table. The July 4th weekend is the perfect time to break out grilled steaks and all the summer fixin’s–including fresh corn, tomato, and arugula salad and the Karoly.
We are drinking a bottle from one of just 504 cases of the Karoly’s Selection, and appreciating the complexity of what’s happening here. When you smell this deep red in the glass, you detect some acidity that seems to hint at a tannic finish–but that’s not how the drink actually tastes at all. It’s deceivingly smooth. When you taste this vintage of the Karoly, you actually get an entirely different vibe–it’s dark berry (plum? black cherry?) and kitchen spices that I called “peppery” and was unsurprised to read that I was in the right vicinity with that taste but not as detailed as you’ll hear from Buena Vista.
Here’s the vineyard’s summary: “The 2012 Karoly’s Zinfandel is a stunning ruby color in the glass with an aromatic bouquet of dark chocolate that evolves into notes of bramble berry and vanilla. Ripe dark cherries abound on the palate, where the rich flavor is rounded into hints of anise and cola and culminates in a lengthy finish that begs for another sip.”
Am I crazy or does that sound sort of like the description I would give a wine? It’s a mash up of technical information (granted, slightly more nuanced than I could offer) and tasting experience. It was also a very good pairing for the grilled London Broil and an instant summer classic. Brian Maloney and Eric Pooler have done a great job with the harvest here and we should continue to expect great things from their collaboration at Buena Vista in the future.
The Cooper Zinfandel caught my eye, not because it’s named for the winemaker’s support of rescue animals (which I wholeheartedly applaud), but because its original description in my email inbox sounded perfectly attuned to my tastes in wine. That being said, Baron Cooper is a Manchester Terrier that the Habashi Family adopted from their local Humane Society, and a percentage of its sales go to Best Friends Animal Society. Good idea and a good wine.
Our rescue is a hound retriever mix, and he’s eying me right now as I think about this 2012 Zinfandel from the Tamura Vineyard. I have several of these delicious bottles ready to go, and the first I enjoyed with pork chops and a mixed green salad. Apples, blue cheese, and candied walnuts helped bring the salad round, and citrus pepper seasoning did much the same for the chops. We’re on a good grilling streak right now, having cooked up pork chops, salmon, and steaks all with just the right temperature and timing.
I’ll leave some of the wine tasting notes for the next entry on the 2012 Baron Cooper Zinfandel. For now, let me just share with you that it’s rich, it’s got some pepper notes, and it’s got some great flavor that starts slowly. Its dark berries sit for a moment but ultimately come shining through as you sip it contentedly. Stay tuned for further updates and thanks as always for your readership of Notes.