Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Seghesio Family Vineyard: Big Wines, Big Value

Since our first child was about six months old my wife and I have been going out at least once a week for date night. Sometimes we go to the movies, sometimes (rarely) we'll go to the gym, but usually we'll go to a nice restaurant. Last night was date night, and we had a great bottle of wine with dinner. In fact, it was really great, and I was going to write about it today until I realized that it is Independence Day. The wine we had last night was a '96 Bordeaux, and no red blooded American writes about French wine on the Fourth of July. That would be akin to treason, no? I mean, if I were to write about French wine on Independence Day I might as well start wire tapping U.S. citizens and outing CIA agents!

Sorry folks, that ain't me. I'm a patriot, and it's U.S. wine your going to read about in this post, whether you like it or not. Actually, I do think you will like it, or I would not waste my time writing about it. The varietal, Zinfandel, is considered to be indigenous to the U.S., and is rarely grown outside of California. I love a good Zin for its attractive, fruit driven nature, which begs to be enjoyed sooner than later. Most winemakers working with Zinfandel are able to create ripe, round, rich, jammy wines, and are not hesitant about allowing the alcohol to rise above 15 or 16 percent. The wines tend to be bold, powerful and delicious, yet for the most part short lived due to their low acid and moderate tannins. Another interesting tidbit about Zin is that they are usually head pruned (as in the image to the left), which gives each Zinfandel vine an aura of individuality.

Not as highly sought after as Cabernet or other noble grapes, many Zinfandels are a tremendous value. There are several boutique producers whose Zins are nothing short of stunning, however, when I reach for a Zin it is usually because it is a great food wine. It pairs well with anything from burgers and brats to pasta or filet mignon. One of my "go to" Zins has always been Seghesio because even their entry level wine is usually very enjoyable, and representative of the varietal. Many red wines at this price point are so manipulated and blended with other varietals that they show no varietal typicity whatsoever. The Seghesios have been producing wine in Sonoma County since 1895, and the winery is still a family owned operation today.

I tasted two Seghesio Zins today, and neither disappointed. The first was the 2005 Sonoma County Zinfandel, which can be found for about $16 a bottle, and the second was the 2005 Home Ranch Zinfandel, which can be found for about $32 a bottle. I preferred the Home Ranch Zin as it provided a broader, more sophisticated aroma, flavor profile and mouthfeel, but the Sonoma Zin was a close second.

Visually they are almost identical, with the Home Ranch being ever so slightly darker at the core. The nose on the Home Ranch is distinctly more attractive with notes of dark fruit and earth, where the Sonoma is very light and peppery. The Sonoma Zin is also lighter and brighter on the palate, leaning more toward red fruits, vanilla and pepper. It has a medium body, and it finishes nicely, although somewhat short. The Home Ranch is more complex and offers some dark fruits and earthy notes with well integrated oak and pepper. It is also richer, has more weight and a longer finish than the Sonoma. However, if I were going to purchase one or the other I would choose the Sonoma because it is such a good value. Seghesio produces approximately 30,000 cases of wine per year, so either of these wines can be found at better area wine shops.

1 comment:

Seadog said...

Tasted this wine at a wine show on St Croix this week WOW after I tasted it I started a swarm on eswarm to see if any one could still get it.