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AXIS ZINFANDEL, CALIFORNIA, 2007

COST: $14-16

WHAT: Drinking this Zin is like biting into toast that's been smeared with a heavy layer of plum and blueberry jam. There's not much nose, but the first taste is full of jammy fruit. It's a deep-red color. There's some oak, but the fruit is so strong, it smooths out all the rough edges. It's a light and lively wine that packs some punch.

WINERY: Axis Vintners is in Sonoma, but makes wine from other regions, too. The zinfandel grapes are from Lodi, but they also make an Alexander Valley Pinot Noir, a Central Coast Chardonnay, a Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc and a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

GOES WITH: I had it with hamburgers hot off the grill, and it was a great match. The 14.8 percent alcohol cut right through the grease and onions. This would pair well with all kinds of meat on the grill or a fall picnic. Think lamb, steak, a hearty pork roast or a pot roast.

Reach Dennis Sodomka at dennis@bottlereport.com. Read his column on picnic wines in the September issue of Augusta Magazine.

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