Wine Blogging Wednesday #23 is here, hosted by Joel from Vivi’s Wine Journal. The theme is BBQ wines and many of you will be surprised that I'm not writing about a New York wine today, though I did drink a couple during the dinner party in quesiton.
Everyone knows Ravenswood -- probably for their zinfandels. And, despite my affection for Long Island's balanced, nuanced wines, I love good California zinfandel.
So, when Nena and I were in Sonoma, we made our final winery stop at Ravenswood. When we walked in, my heart sank a little. Looking at the tasting sheet, they were only pouring two zinfandels -- both of which I can get here in New York. What fun is that? I wanted to get my mouth on something interesting.
Luckily, they had a bottle of 2002 Monte Rosso open and let us taste it. Of course, it worked out for the winery as well -- if they hadn't poured that wine for us, we wouldn't have bought anything there.
Every wine lover has an opinion as to what wine you should drink with BBQ or grilled fare. Some always go for a rose. Others think simple, but spicy reds are best (Cotes du Rhone maybe). I've even heard riesling as an option.
In my opinion, there is no such thing as the "ultimate" BBQ wine.
Think about it, BBQ/grilling is a style of cooking -- not the end result. And yes, I know that barbeque in the traditional sense is an end result, but even in that vein you have beef brisket, pork shoulder, whole chicken, leg of lamb...
My point is that rather than focus on the cooking method, think about what you're cooking and how the cooking method will affect its flavor.
Monday night, we had a couple friends come over for a pre-holiday dinner party. It was a bit impromptu, so I didn't have a lot of time to plan a menu. So, on my lunch break, I went to the only farm stand nearby, bought some stuff that looked good and went from there.
Then Nena went to a farmstand out east and got some fresh corn and I picked up some sirloin that I cut into kebabs. A two-course menu was born.
We started with tomato carpaccio salad with baby arugala, grilled sweet corn, pistachios, grated grana padano and a dressing made with Champagne vinegar and Stonehouse olive oil we picked up in San Francisco. Sorry, no pictures this time around, but it was mighty tasty. I served two local roses with this course, both from Channing Daughters Winery: 2005 Rosati di Cabernet Franc Croteau Farm Vineyard and 2005 Rosati di Merlot McCall Vineyard. They are two of the three vineyard- and variety-specific roses CDW produced this year. Both were quite nice, but I think I prefered the cabernet franc with the salads. It was lighter, crisper and played well with the tomatoes. Our guests prefered the merlot however.
Our main course was steak kebabs marinated in garlic, lemon and Thompson Field rosemary, oregano and basil. Yes, Thompson Field is my little herb garden in the back yard, but it deserves a name, don't you think? Along side I grilled some polenta rounds and made a quick fire roasted tomato, onion sauce.
I really love to serve zinfandel with grilled beef, especially full-flavored, well-seasoned steaks or kebabs. So, drinking Ravenswood's 2002 Monte Rosso Zinfandel was a no brainer choice. And it was a great combination.
Teeth stainingly dark in the glass, this wine has impressive aromatics that jump right out of the glass -- sweet red berry (rasberry and cherry), vanilla, sweet and savory spice. Nena and Tara both commented that they could just smell this wine all night, without even drinking it. I couldn't concur there, but the nose was enchanting.
As with most zin, this isn't a low alcohol bottling coming in at 15.4% ABV, but it wasn't "hot" at all. Full, round, mouth-filling flavors and body balace the alcohol extremely well. Bold but smooth this wine is all about cherries and chocolate and spice. I'm glad that I bought a few bottles because the Monte Rosso vineyard is owned by Gallo now, so Ravenswood won't be making this wine anymore.
Would I drink it again? Yes...in fact, I will. And, even at $32, I think this is a great value.