I am always looking for wine education — in any form. And that is exactly what Corner 103 provides. Their modest location in downtown Sonoma (yes it’s on a Corner and yes the address is 103) offers guests the chance to taste through the winery’s complete portfolio learning everything from proper glassware to — yay! — food pairing. The experience is intimate, the winery will book no more than 10 guests at a time, which means the wine nerd in you will get all the one-on-one attention she’ll need. Hm…I guess it’s time for me to book my visit then…

My Corner: The Corner where I sleep

About the Wine: The Corner 103 2012 Zinfandel is made from 100% Zinfandel grapes harvested from the Dry Creek AVA in Sonoma County. Although the winery won’t reveal the specific vineyard (not uncommon with smaller vineyards), it is revealed that the grapes are harvested from a small, low-yielding, and family-run vineyard. In fact, the family can trace its viticultural roots to founding Italian immigrants who were amongst the first to plant grapes in the Sonoma region.

The wine was aged in French oak barrels (41% new) for 22 months.

14.7% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork and breathe in plump blackberries smashed in mud along with an almost red-meaty umaminess. As the Corner 103 2012 Zinfandel flows from the bottle to the decanter, it appears to be the very definition of maroon.

NOTE: I let the wine breathe for about 45 minutes in the decanter prior to enjoying.

As the wine moves from the decanter into the glass, there’s the slightest tinge of brown that adds an overall voluptuousness to the color. Then, once the Zinfandel settles into the glass, it is a thick, sturdy, impenetrable shade of maroon at the center, fading to a somewhat lighter and more see-through rusty rouge toward the perimeter.

Initial aromas are of fresh cut lumber wood, black cherry, boysenberry, hints of cacao and a clear line of acidity through it all. Swirl, and the Corner 103 2012 Zinfandel releases more woodsiness, more plumpness in those fruits, add to those fruits black mission figs, and a hint of something herbaceouss (though, to me, undecipherable).

On the palate this Zinfandel is quite smooth, full, and rich at first. The acid kicks in about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way through, with the tannins meeting it at about 1/2 way through. Though the tannins enhance and their presence is noticeable, they’re quite light and delicate. Overall the Corner 103 2012 Zinfandel is both bright and dark — full with plump fruits that are ripe with a fresh acidity. Dominant flavors include dark chocolate, black figs, dried and rehydrated currants, and a subtle woodsy-ness like crispy-thin twigs.

The finish of this Zinfandel is simultaneously long and short, as the tannins coat the tongue for an almost complete palate-cleanser, the acid lines the perimeter of the tongue and cheeks — and the alcohol warms the heart.

Food Pairing: I paired the Corner 103 2012 Zinfandel with an herb-crusted lamb rack alongside roasted and cooled golden beetroots stuffed with a mint-pea purée on top of a bed of arugula and sprinkled with cranberries, goats cheese, and pine nuts.

First of all, this dish was delicious.

What I loved about this pairing was the juicy-gaminess of the lamb worked in subduing the lingering tannins. This means that the wine itself became a bit fuller, richer, rounder. Meanwhile the natural earthy-sweetness of the beetroots worked in pulling forward the same earthy sweetness in the wine and, again, balanced out the fruit-tannin ratio.

This wine is completely enjoyable now, but I am curious how it will evolve over the next 5 to 8 years. My prediction is that it will have that rounder mouthfeel on its own, providing a smoother finish, and more versatility in food pairing. Only time shall tell.

More Info: I received the Corner 103 2012 Zinfandel as a sample for review. (Cheers Sarah!) Retail: $40. For more information about Corner 103, schedule your visit, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Corner 103 website.

BriscoeBites officially accepts samples as well as conducts on-site and online interviews. Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page where you can contact me directly. Cheers!

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