Sunce Winery is a family-run business through and through. Husband and wife team Frane and Janae Franicevic have been working together for 26 vintages. With his winemaking abilities, her marketing skills, and their dual passion for turning great grapes into great wine, Sunce Winery receives consistent accolades year after year. While three out of four acres in their estate vineyard (called Zora after one of their three daughters) is planted to Pinot Noir, the family sources 39 different varietals from throughout California to create a full portfolio of wine offerings. In 2013 the family turned to the Russian River Valley — home to some of the oldest and boldest Zinfandel grapes.

About the Wine: The Sunce 2013 Cattich Vineyard Zinfandel is made from 100% Zinfandel grapes harvested from the Cattitch Vineyard in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley AVA.

The wine was aged in 100% French oak barrels for 24 months.

15% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Sunce 2013 Cattich Vineyard Zinfandel and become immediately immersed in blackberry jam full stop. This Zin pours like a wizened, aged red wine, settling in the glass with a dark, dark maroon hue and a nearly impenetrable center. Aromas are immediately of blackberry compote seasoned with scents of decadent chocolate, whiskey barrel, and sweet tobacco. Swirl and release fresh boysenberries, caramelized brown sugar, vanilla beans, and a thorough acidic line.

The palate of the Sunce 2013 Cattich Vineyard Zinfandel is plush with pillow-y tannins that reverse melt onto the tongue and maintain that delicacy throughout the tasting. No, they don’t quite coat the tongue, these tannins are more like a light shawl. The acidity here is mellow until about three-quarters of the way when it begins to amplify, giving way to a spice-filled finish. Dominant flavors are of blackberry, boysenberry, caramel, whiskey barrels, hints of anise, burnt chocolate cookies, and dried ground cardamom.

Food Pairing: I paired the Sunce 2013 Cattich Vineyard Zinfandel with — believe it or not — a homemade quesadilla, which was filled with broccoli and mushrooms (and yes, copious amounts of cheese). I actually really enjoyed the broccoli with this pairing, a vegetable whose cruciferous nature is known to be a less than likely wine companion. In this case, the vegetation contrasted the dominating fruit and other dessert-like flavors and rounded-out the flavor profile of the meal as a whole.

Would I pair this wine with this meal again? Knowing that I liked this pairing, maybe. But I’d also like to re-live this wine with something a little more elevated. I’m thinking specifically of my cedar plank salmon and maybe a side of caramelized onions and sauteéd mushrooms. I think here the texture of the meal would work better with the palate of the wine, and the smokiness of the salmon along with the earthiness of the mushrooms and sweetness of the onions would play even better with the Zinfandel’s flavor profile.

More Info: I received the Sunce 2013 Cattich Vineyard Zinfandel as a gift. (Cheers Dave!) Retail: Currently Unavailable. Retail for the 2015 La Prenda Vineyard: $32. For more information about Sunce, their available wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Sunce Winery website.

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Sunce, named after one of Fane and Janae’s daughters, means “sun” in the Franicevic’s native Serbo-Croatian

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