“There isn’t always a need for speed in my life,” says Kevin Buckler, professional race car driver and owner and founder of Adobe Road Wines. Often when we hear about professional athletes starting a winery business, we assume that their involvement is fairly hands-off, providing the financial backing and maybe some creative influences. Not so with Buckler, who since opening Adobe Road in 2002 has insisted on having “uncompromising access and control” to every wine produced. As such, he, along with his team, stomp the vineyard grounds, taste test every barrel, and collectively decide when perfection has been met. Yes, a slow, steady, meticulous process that slows the racer down. The result is that Adobe Roads crafts quite hearty, structural wines that act as a steady journey, lasting the length of a meal and well into the night beyond. 

About the Wine: The Adobe Road 2014 Kemp Vineyard Zinfandel is made from 100% Zinfandel grapes sourced from Kemp Vineyard located in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley AVA. Indeed, most people know that the hillsides of Dry Creek Valley produce some of the most desirable Zinfandel grapes. One thousand feet above the valley floor, in an “an amphitheater-style bowl,” as described by winemaker Garrett Martin, lay the terraced vines of Kemp Vineyard.

Warmed by its proximity to the sun during the day and cooled by the cool coastal wind and fog at night, the location allows the vigorous Zinfandel grape to enjoy a slow, even ripening process.

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: On the pour the Adobe Road 2014 Kemp Vineyard Zinfandel is a light, fun shade of purple, settling into the glass with a darker hue of crushed purple velvet. Initial aromas are of purple grapes, green leaves, wet oak barrels in a dank cave, blackberry jam, cranberry juice, and dried sage leaves.

[Note: This is a wine that must be aerated and left to breathe for at least 60 minutes. Without doing so, the tannins will hit the tongue almost immediately, completely drying out the palate.]

Initial palate is bold with dark fruits like black plums and prunes, and flavors of tree bark, dried blueberries, coffee beans, and cigar smoke. It’s a full-bodied wine to be sure, but after having time to breath, those tannins play a delicate part in the tasting, providing the backbone and body without imposing on texture. Indeed, the texture is quite silky; the fruits almost jammy. The acid kicks in about half way through the tasting, awakening the fruit flavors. Here there’s a burst of energy — berry notes, spice kick, a crescendo of flavor — and then a smooth transition as the wine nearly melts away, blankets the tongue with those more earthy elements, for a lingering flavorful finish, inviting another sip.

Food Pairing: The Adobe Road 2014 Kemp Vineyard Zinfandel loves barbecue. Think short ribs or cedar plank salmon lathered in a sweet-smokey sauce (like a blueberry-bourbon glaze), roasted red potatoes, and steamed veggies. Yes, everything from the body to the texture of the wine screams this kind of pairing.

But, this wine also loves pizza. Think a spicy, hardy pizza though — mushrooms, lots of sauce (even BBQ sauce if you’re that kind of person), bell pepper, and a sprinkling of chili flakes.

I think the two key words to pairing food with the Adobe Road 2014 Kemp Vineyard Zinfandel is “spice” and “sauce.” In my opinion, anyway.

More Info: I received the Adobe Road 2014 Kemp Vineyard Zinfandel as a sample for review. (Cheers Gail!) Retail: $40. For more information about Adobe Road Wines and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Adobe Road Wines website.


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