Zinfandel! Any night of the week, if I had to pick a wine, it would almost always be a Zinfandel. I find them to be big, flavorful, fruit forward, sweet, robust and well balanced. Most of the Zinfandels I write about come from the Russian River or Central Coast districts. This time I decided to venture east, to Amador County and see if they could produce more than just history of a Gold Rush. How fitting that I found a wine called Terra D'Oro Zinfandel (2006).
Terra D'Oro is either a little big or a big little winery. Either way, it produces a respectable number of cases of wine but is small enough to keep that boutique feel to it. Its range is wide, from a light Pinot Grigio to a succulent Sangiovesse. Being a mid-sized winery has advantages. Being too big can often lead to a production factory that can create generic wines. Being too small often means no economies of scale and the lack of funds to invest in the right equipment leading to inconsistencies in the wine. In Terra D'Oro, they have the best of both worlds - not too big and not too small.
I opened the bottle of wine with no pre-conceived notions. Having never tried their wine before, and having had very few wines from Amador County, I didn't know what to expect. Here is what I found:
* Look: The wine had a beautiful deep red color and had no haze to it, whatsoever. As for age, it was still a young wine, could do with some aging but was certainly mature enough to be enjoyed today. It should continue to age well over the next two to three years.
* Scent: The smell of a wine can be challenging to identify. In this case, I had few troubles. I grew up in an area where tobacco fields were plentiful and when I smelled this wine, I could see myself driving through tobacco fields with the aroma wafting through the car windows. We all know that cigarettes are bad for you, but tobacco plants, prior to being processed (smoked), have a nice scent.
* Taste: As always, the most important part of the wine. This is very well balanced - it is fruit forward with a sweet finish. At the very start you will notice berries, particularly sweet black berries, leading to a finish of vanilla and spices that stay with you even after the wine is gone.
As for food pairing, this matches well with a summer BBQ, most pasta dishes or even the family night pizza. Avoid lighter food with this - no fish and no stir-fries would be a good rule of thumb.
All in all this was a very nice wine. My wife and I had no problems polishing off the bottle and are anxious to buy a few more; it's sold at BevMo for $12.99. Drink up and enjoy. Until next time, cheers!
Don Colman, the Everyday Wine Guy lives in Danville and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org