I’ve finally found a Zinfandel that’s lived up to all the hype surrounded by this varietal. You think Zin, and you think juicy and jammy, with loud and proud flavors of berries-galore! Yes and yes. That’s all I ever wanted — but I never really got it until I tried Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel. So please, join me for a juicy, jammy sip, will you?

The thing is — in my grocery store wine experience — I’ve mostly been exposed to underdeveloped Zinfandels. Though the back of the bottle promises all the fruity voluptuousness one could want, I often times find that the flavor just falls flat. Fruits sit in the background of the palate while the tannins just take over the tongue. Needless to say, this messes up my food pairing and thus my overall meal. Big bummer. Well not so here. This is the first time I got excited about a Zinfandel — I believe I actually did a dance.

About the Wine: If you know anything about Sonoma, then you know that Zinfandel is a star player for the SC team. Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Vineyard is made from 97% Zinfandel and 3% Syrah grapes harvested from — well, you can guess — Sonoma County. Each vineyard lot was fermented separately, and each was fermented in 75% French and 25% American oak barrels for 20 months. The separate lots were then blended to taste just prior to bottling, when the extra Syrah was also added for a little extra taste and texture.

14% ABV

Flavor Profile: A smooth, eloquent purple in the glass, the Kenwood Sonoma County Zinfandel immediately emits strong aromas of blackberries, boysenberries, and a bit of fresh, fertile earth. On the palate is where those berries truly sing, releasing a thick jammy-ness that truly pays respect to the wine’s origin. Bursting with flavors, your mouth and your mind will be filled with the heart of harvest. But there is a smoothness, a silkiness, that lines the palate, calming the effects and bringing to light that oaky undertone from the barrel aging. Tannins are a modest medium — enough to give the wine body and balance. But the addition of that Syrah, leaves a lingering freshness that sighs all the way through your sinuses. So the finish is neither harsh, nor hollow — nay, it is like a warm autumn breeze that blows the vivaciousness of the vineyard, the life of the wine, back into your body. You and the drink are one.

Food Pairing: This casually affordable wine has the potential to elevate even a mid-week meal. You could easily pair this with a simple, but juicy burger, complimenting the juiciness of the wine. Conversely, you could take your time to create a more refined dish — I would recommend a seafood bouillabaisse or cioppino. The delicately saucy nature of the wine would do well to compliment the body of the wine and bring forward more of those earthy notes. The plump shrimp or lobster, the barely cooked muscles and clams would all amplify the wine’s juices. And, if feeling adventurous and adding a bit of spice to the dish, I believe you’ll find that those same juicy-jammy qualities in the wine will help subdue the palate and add a refresher to the meal as a whole.

More Info: You will definitely be hearing more about Kenwood Vineyards from me. If they can do Zin-justice, than I’m eager to see what they can do with some of my favorite varietals (I’m looking at you Chard and Pinot). Moreover, I’m curious to see what their single vineyard varieties have to offer — but I believe those are member exclusive. I was able to find the Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel at Safeway (Sale Price: $13.50). For more information about Kenwood Vineyards and to purchase their wines directly (and/or join their club), please do visit the Kenwood Vineyards website. Many thanks, Kenwood, and Cheers!

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