Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Zin that's pure Gold

With Christmas shopping, countless trips to the grocery store, decorating the house, and wrapping presents, I haven’t had enough time to go wine tasting. That being said, I would be neglecting my duties as a wine consumer and Napa Valley resident if I didn’t take the time to enjoy a little wine after a long day’s work.

During one of my visits to Whole Foods earlier this week, I picked up a block of aged cheddar cheese from Vermont; this wasn’t just any old cheddar, it was made with bits of cranberry.

Although I enjoy dried cranberries throughout the year, the idea of cranberry cheddar seemed particularly festive. I sampled it at the store; it was creamy and slightly tart with a sweet finish. My wine-pairing gears started shifting; this cheese would be the perfect complement to the 2006 Gold Series “Back Barn” Zinfandel from producer Michael Pozzan.

My instincts were right on. The Zinfandel, which is named for the parcel of land behind the Pozzan’s Yountville home where there was a barn before there was a vineyard, is ruby red in color with a medium transparency. (A dark, full-bodied wine would have killed the delicate flavors of the cheese.)

After giving it a good swirl in a stemless “O” glass, the nose really opened up, so much so that the aromas of ripe cherry, raspberry, and pomegranate escaped the glass and perfumed the entire room I was sitting in. The palate is just as powerful, offering juicy red fruits balanced by sweet oak and clove. But this is not your typical jammy Zin; it is polished and elegant, with super smooth tannins and a long, fruit-driven finish—and it’s a great value wine at $22 a bottle.

Michael Pozzan Winery produces over 100,000 cases; the wines are featured in the tasting room at the Napa Wine Company and at BevMo stores throughout California. I also highly recommend the Marianna Bordeaux-style red, the Sonoma County Chardonnay, and the Napa Valley Cuvée #13.

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