WHAT: This classic fruit-forward Artezin Zinfandel 2011 is the perfect introduction for anyone who wants to know what a Zin should taste like.
It’s a bright crimson color in the glass, with fresh aromas of raspberry and pomegranate and touches of pepper and spice. The fruit and spices are mirrored in the taste, with hints of blueberry.
The mouthfeel is lush, with rich, smooth tannins. It is a balanced wine with good texture and a lingering fruit taste on the finish. The finish does not have the “hot” alcohol feel that some overly extracted Zinfandels do.
The grapes all come from Mendocino, one of the California areas known for growing great Zin. The vineyards are family-owned and sustainably farmed in the ridgelines and benchlands of the Ukiah Valley.
The blend is 90 percent Zinfandel and 10 percent Petite Sirah. It is aged in 100 percent French oak barrels that have been used once or twice. The used barrels take the edge off sharp oak tannins that can fight the fresh fruit flavor of a good Zin.
This is a wine made to be drunk young and not cellared for long. Open it at least 30 minutes before drinking. I also would chill this slightly before drinking and let it warm up in the glass.
WINERY: Artezin is one of the labels produced by the Hess Collection. The winery sits high on Mount Veeder and includes a spectacular art collection, which I suspect is part of the wordplay of the name. Art + Zin=Artezin, or artisan.
Artezin focuses on heirloom varieties particularly suited to their terroirs. They work with growers who practice sustainable farming.
The winery makes one other Zin, the Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (which is fabulous), a Petite Sirah from Mendecino County, a Petite Sirah called Garzini Ranch, a Carignan and a Charbono.
GOES WITH: A good Zinfandel needs bold flavors to pair with the fruit of the wine. For this pairing, my wife, Teri, and I chose one of my favorite deep-dish pizzas, from Pizzeria Uno. I brought this one back from Lexington, S.C., but the original restaurant is in Chicago.
This was a great match, with the spicy sausage and chunks of tomato in the sauce blending with the spice and fruit of the Zinfandel.
This also would go well with grilled meats, rich red pasta sauces and zesty cheeses such as aged cheddar or goat gouda.