Wine Time: Neyers Vista Luna Zinfandel, Borden Ranch 2010, Lodi

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COST: $27-29

WHAT: One of my first real loves in wine was a Zinfandel, and it’s easy to see why. Zins are affordable, approachable and usually go with a variety of food. For many Americans, Zin is the introduction to fine wines.

The Neyers Zinfandel Vista Luna is a perfect example of why the grape is so popular. It has an intoxicating fruity aroma and a rich, lush, warm mouthfeel. It is a great wine to sip or to pair with many different foods.

This is a wine of great complexity and depth that continues to develop for 20-30 minutes after you pour it in the glass. It has a heady aroma of raspberry and spices followed by tastes of black fruit, plums and black pepper with a nice minerality. The wine drinks great now, and should continue to improve for another two to four years in the bottle.

The finish is clean and crisp.

The grapes come from 50-year-old vines planted on an outcropping of a quartz mound in the Lodi region. Borden Ranch is the specific AVA. Old vines are marked by lower production but great flavor intensity. The soil helps make the grapes more complex and softer than grapes grown on rich soil.

Owner Bruce Neyers says the soil is comparable to Alsace and near the Alps in France. He is national sales director for Kermit Lynch, an importer of fine French wines. He spends five to six weeks each year tasting wines in France, so he is familiar with the soils and wines there.

WINERY: Bruce and Barbara Neyers started Neyers Vineyards in 1992 in Napa Valley, producing about 15,000 cases of wine a year. They feature Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grown on their 50-acre organically farmed Conn Valley ranch. They use cover crops in the vineyards to provide nutrients for the vines. They also purchase grapes from a small list of growers. They also produce Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Carignan, Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah.

Wine and Spirits Magazine chose Neyers as its 2002 Artisan Winery of the Year.

GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I tried this with grilled chicken legs and it was perfect. We had just returned from a long trip and wanted to kick back and relax. The Neyers Zin was superb with dinner and even better while sitting on the couch reliving the memories of our trip. It also would go well with burgers, pizza, grilled lamb chops, grilled pork chops or hearty, flavorful cheeses.

WINE EVENTS

JULY 5

Wine and tapas tasting, 5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; taste four wines and three tapas, $19.99; (706) 722-4805, lamaisontelfair.com

JULY 6

First Friday wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three white wines and three reds and matching cheeses; $5 with $3 rebate on purchase of one of the featured wines; (803) 279-9522, wineworldsc.com

Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; price dependent on flight selection; (706) 922-9463, vineyardwinemarket.com

JULY 7

Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; price dependent on flight selection; (706) 922-9463, vineyardwinemarket.com

JULY 19

Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three white wines and three reds and matching cheeses, $5 with $3 rebate on purchase of one of the featured wines; (803) 279-9522, wineworldsc.com

JULY 27

Italian Wines of Banfi Seminar Tasting, 7 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; (803) 279-9522, wineworldsc.com


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