On my last trip through Paso, I stopped by Zenaida Cellars, a winery I had come across when they kindly sent me a few bottles to sample. While their Syrah was outstanding, I truly fell in love with their Fire Sign red blend. But for some reason I held on to their GSM waiting for the opportune moment to pop the cork (or, this this case, twist the cap). And, honestly, I think it’s because of the name. I’m an itchy-twitchy girl who can’t hold still for more than a moment and wanderlust is something that’s truly in my heart. Well, I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m traveling — like, a lot. Admittedly, my recent travels are primarily taking me to various California wine regions, but in so doing I feel like I’m traveling to world as I learn and taste through each grape’s heritage, each winemaker’s journey. And so, now is the time to twist off the cap of Zenaida Cellars 2014 Wanderlust.
About the Wine: Zenaida Cellars 2014 Wanderlust is a classic Rhone-style blend, GSM. The wine is comprised of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre, predominantly from the Zenaida Cellars estate vineyards located in the Templeton Gap district of Paso Robles. The exception is the Grenache, which was harvested from both an estate vineyard, the Onx Estate Vineyard, as well as an East Templeton vineyard in Alto Pomar, Carriage Vineyard. I mention this because the difference in turf absolutely plays a part in the wine’s notes: While Zenaida Cellars estate vineyards sit along a river bench, the Carriage Vineyard sits on a hill with about 1180 feet elevation and bares calcified, limestone soils.
Each lot was fermented and aged separately. Aging took place in grain French oak barrels and puncheons for 18 months and blended just before bottling.
Flavor Profile: On the pour, as the wine makes its journey from bottle to glass, the Zenaida 2014 Wanderlust has tints of brown to it. In fact, I would say, it’s more brown-red than red-brown. In the glass, it’s a very thick and steady maroon.
Initial aromas are of black or dark red fruits (think plums, black cherries, currents) as well as dark, leafy greens (kale, arugula). Swirl, move your nose around the glass, and you may be able to pick up some background or undertone aromas reminiscent of wet stone or gravel along with campfire flint.
On the palate the wine has a gritty-earthy texture — not a chewy tannin quality, more like an honest farmer had his hand in this wine (interpret that how you will). There’s an immediate sense of warmth both in the mouth and down the chest. Yet, I would not call the wine hot or too alcoholic, as the flavors meshed into the wine are elevated and uplifted by this warming quality. The wine is absolutely balanced.
Though you sensed some dark fruits on the nose, they’re not as dominant on the palate. No, the wine takes another direction with, what I would call, a very floral bouquet of edible flowers: orange blossoms, Nasturtiums, Chrysanthemums. And there is an undeniable hint of blood orange that consistently lingers from start to finish. And remember that brown-red on the pour? Remember that vegetative smell? Remember that farmer whose hand was in the wine? There’s a very subtle rusticity on the finish, like a soft dust storm of freshly kicked farm soil.
Food Pairing: I paired the Zenaida Cellars 2014 Wanderlust with a Greek-inspired salad: spinach, kalamata olives, feta cheese, dried cranberries, diced red bell pepper, tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette and topped with vegetarian meatballs. The combination of flavors — the sweet from the cranberries and balsamic; the bitter from the spinach and bell peppers; the funk of feta; the tartness of the kalamata; and the almost mealy-ness of the vegetarian meatballs — all elevated those same components in the wine.
Zenaida Cellars 2014 Wanderlust can easily go with a number of dishes, but I encourage you to think about each flavor and texture in the wine and try to replicate that in your meal. It’s a fun, easy drinker — so make sure your food pairs with that as well.
More Info: If you haven’t yet read my review for either the Zenaida Cellars Syrah or the Zenaida Cellars Fire Sign, please do. I received the 2014 Zenaida Cellars Wanderlust as a sample for review. (Cheers, Eric and Jill!) For more information about Zenaida Cellars and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Zenaida Cellars website.
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