Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Great American Wine Company Red Blend 2012, California

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COST: $12-14

WHAT: Just in time for summer grilling and patriotic celebrations, I discovered Great American Wine Company Red Blend 2012, a beauty of a bargain red blend from Rosenblum Cellars, one of the top producers of Zinfandel.

It is lush, rich, smooth, full of red fruit flavors. This is one of the easiest drinking wines I’ve had in a long time.

It starts with dark cherries, black raspberries and vanilla on the nose. The taste is velvety, with huge fruit flavors and muted tannins, fruit forward without being jammy. The finish is medium and extremely pleasant.

The blend starts with 74 percent Zinfandel then adds 20 percent Petite Sirah and six percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Each varietal is fermented separately and then added to the final blend. It is barrel aged for 12 months. The Zinfandel gives the wine its lush flavor while Petite Sirah and Cab add deep color and bold structure.

As I was drinking this I thought this might be a good entry wine for people who don’t think they like red wine. The tannins and oak are gently integrated and don’t leave any harsh flavor spikes.

Another reason to like this wine is how the Great American Wine Company label was formed. The company says it is a line of classic American varietals made in tribute to American heroes. Rosenblum Cellars will give a portion of the profits from these wines to military charities. For 2014, they will give $100,000 to the USO.

In keeping with the patriotic trend, the labels of the red blend are red, the Chardonnay labels are white and the Cabernet Sauvignon labels are blue.

WINERY: Veterinarian Kent Rosenblum and his wife, Kathy, started making wine at home before opening a commercial operation in Alameda in 1978. While many of the established wineries focused on estate-grown grapes, Rosenblum forged alliances with growers in lesser known areas of Northern California.

Kent made wines that recognized the differences between mountainside and valley grapes, and he became fascinated with the qualities of old vine Zinfandels. The winery became famous for its numerous Zinfandels, single-vineyard Zins, high altitude Zins. If it was a quality Zin vineyard, Rosenblum was working with it.

The winery and tasting room were established in an old factory in an area more known for shipyards and docks than wine.

Rosenblum creates more than 50 wines each year, trying to let each wine reflect its terroir. The success is evident by the numerous medals and awards the wines have won. Over the years, Rosenblum has made more than 50 Zinfandels earning 90 points or more from Wine Spectator.

Head winemaker John Kane and his staff travel all over California looking for great grapes. And though the company is a founding member of the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers group (ZAP!), they do make other wines including Rhone-style reds such as Syrah, Petite Sirah and Grenache and a handful of Rhone-style whites.

About four years ago Rosenblum Cellars was bought by Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, a part of Diageo, one of the world’s leading drinks businesses. Brands include Beaulieu Vineyard, Sterling Vineyards, Chalone Vineyard, Acacia Vineyard and Provenance.

GOES WITH: We had this wine with grilled Italian sausage and a sauteed mix of green and red bell peppers, onions and tomatoes. I added fried potato wedges and cut veggies while my wife, Teri, had a salad. It was a feast.

The smooth, fruity wine paired well with the spicy, smoky sausages and sweet sauteed vegetables. We enjoyed the meal on our back porch and loved sipping the wine after dinner.

The blend will go well with most any grilled meat, such as steaks, ribs or pork chops, and with pasta and tomato sauce.

WINE EVENTS

THURSDAY, MAY 29

  • Wine and tapas tasting, 5 p.m. until closing, La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $25; (706) 722-4805

MAY 30-31

  • Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday and 2-6 p.m. Saturday, Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; price dependent on flight selection; (706) 922-9463
FRIDAY, JUNE 6
  • Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three whites, three reds and cheeses, $5 with rebate on purchase of one bottle of the featured wines; (803) 279-9522

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